Review older films here: 1979 and earlier - Page 10 - AVS Forum
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post #271 of 1409 Old 06-28-2010, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

You would have to see this thing.



Part of the story was that it came from the Mississippi River.

-Bill

Apparently it wasn't a BIG part of the story.
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post #272 of 1409 Old 06-28-2010, 11:19 AM
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I recorded this last night on my DVR from TCM and will watch it soon. I saw it 30 some odd years ago on an independent station one weekend afternoon. I remember saying this guy must have seriously gotten into the medicine cabinet (Timothy Leary's ).

It is a fantasy written by Dr. Suess himself, both story and screenplay. Bart dozes off and finds himself enslaved by a madman piano teacher along with 499 other boys who are forced to play a gigantic piano. (hence, the 5000 fingers). Bart tries to save himself and his mother who is Dr. T's hypnotic assistant.

A rather mind boggling wild movie. Dr. Suess himself regarded the film as a debacle. At its premeire patrons walked out. Has developed a cult following and in recent years is viewed more kindly.
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post #273 of 1409 Old 06-28-2010, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by drbonbi View Post

I make it a point not to watch John Wayne movies. A real phony.)

Dana

Wow ! Even if his contribution came through later and added to our love of country ,as it did for many in my generation ,that is still a good thing.

Not to mention he made some good films which is your loss.

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post #274 of 1409 Old 06-28-2010, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

Bottom line: If you cant separate an actor's politics from his/her performances, you'll prolly miss out on some great movies.

Great post !

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post #275 of 1409 Old 06-29-2010, 05:03 AM
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Wow, since we are on the subject of John Wayne Movies, I'll comment to my personal favorite. Its making the rounds on HDNET now.

Wil Anderson (John Wayne) has to drive a herd of cattle. Times being tough and good help hard to find. Mr Anderson hires a bunch of school boys to help him drive his heard of cattle. Along the way they grow up quite rapidly from breaking into the liquor cabinet to having to steal back the heard from a group of outlaws Mr. Anderson turned down for the job. Mr. Anderson is shot and killed by those outlaws (led by Bruce Dern). With help from Mr. Nightlinger (played brilliantly by Roscoe Lee Brown) the boys are able to recoup the herd and drive it to its destination. This may be one of the only John Wayne movies where his character is killed. A really good movie.
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post #276 of 1409 Old 06-29-2010, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by glangford View Post

Wow, since we are on the subject of John Wayne Movies, I'll comment to my personal favorite. Its making the rounds on HDNET now.
........... This may be one of the only John Wayne movies where his character is killed. A really good movie.

Not the only one, but one of the best and one of my favorites. The Shootist is one of the best westerns ever made IMHO, right up there with Liberty Valance.
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post #277 of 1409 Old 06-29-2010, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Walkabout (1971), directed and photographed by Nicolas Roeg.

A film fan favorite. Gorgeous photography, fine natural performances by the three young leads, and a story that sticks in the mind and won't leave. It's been on my Blu-ray "must have" list from day one.

After their father becomes murderously insane, the Girl and her young brother, still in their school uniforms, are lost in the Australian outback. They have no survival skills and after a few days are in bad shape. A nice young man on his walkabout picks them up and takes care of them. He is entirely at home in the wilderness.

Although the Black Boy is considerate of the Girl, sexual tensions will inevitably build between young people. He courts her according to his customs but she isn't having it. Maybe it's race, maybe it's because he seems alien, but most likely it is just too soon. It's a tragedy.

In later years she remembers that time differently, imagining scenes of perfect innocence that never happened. She was in Paradise and left it. I think everyone has had the experience of not knowing when you are happy until long afterwards when there is no going back. The closing epigram is from A Shropshire Lad:

Quote:
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
The film is composed of striking contrasts. Wide vistas of desert passing through canyons that look like ruined cities, down to grains of sand and the ants and maggots that devour all dead things. Despite it's loveliness and themes of purity it is a lizard-eat-lizard world, red in tooth and claw. Much hunting and killing and butchering, none of it faked.

The contrasts are sometimes heavy handed. Roeg hits the noble savage vs corrupt white civilization theme again and again.

A famous sequence (sometimes censored) has Jenny Agutter, age 16, swimming naked in a rocky pool. Any concupiscent interest this would have is tempered when the director intercuts animals being speared and hacked to pieces. This must symbolize...something.

Other segments intrude: a scientific expedition and a plaster works settlement. I'm not sure why we have them other than to contrast their lascivious vulgarity with the simple life of our young people.

Lush John Barry score, with strangely appropriate children's choir and electronic effects. And lots of didgeridoo.

Criterion Blu-ray, which replaces their 4:3 letterboxed DVD. There appears to be a problem with the disc on some players. It works on the OPPO players.

Now I want Picnic at Hanging Rock.



-Bill


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post #278 of 1409 Old 06-30-2010, 12:41 PM
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The boy on walkabout is the guy who played the aborigini in the first Crocidile Dundee movie.
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post #279 of 1409 Old 07-01-2010, 06:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Easy Virtue (1928), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

From the play by Noel Coward. Remade with more comedy in 2008 with Jessica Biehl.

It opens with a scandalous divorce trial. Larita's drunken husband has objected to the attentions a painter pays to her. The painter commits suicide. After the divorce she flees to the Riviera and marries a younger man who takes her home to a big house in the country. His mother is less than pleased and when they discover her history -- hoo, boy. She makes a flashy exit from the family but the only way to grant a divorce is with another scandalous trial. Without no-fault, she has to pretend to be congenitally adulterous. No happy ending for her.

It's pretty stiff and uninvolving. Some interesting Riviera locations and painterly-like compositions, but little else. In one good bit we see the progress of the marriage proposal through the excited responses of an eavesdropping telephone operator.



-Bill


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post #280 of 1409 Old 07-02-2010, 05:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Foxy Brown (1974), written and directed by Jack Hill.

Pam Grier returns in a film similar to Coffy (abundant nudity, violence, pretty lame humor), but slower starting, less funny, and more by the numbers. The final 25 minutes are an intermittent blood bath. It was originally intended to be a sequel, but the sales department at American International decided that sequels weren't selling.

The DVD has a good commentary track by the director. He agrees that Coffy was the better film. This time he had a smaller effective budget because he and Pam Grier were making more money. A lot of the actors were stunt men who worked for less. The stunt women in the lesbian bar fight had a good time with it.

The modeling agency/prostitution ring/dope importing thugs are particularly pathetic this time. I remember Peter Brown as one of the rangers from the Laredo series. Here his man-parts are cut off by Foxy's black-power community watch allies. The director says he had to put in extra violence in a trade with the studio so they would allow him a nonviolent subplot. He suggested this scene as a joke and they went for it.

Also with Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear!). Pam Grier contributed some of her own bits: picking up the razor blade with her tongue and making a weapon from wire coat hangers.

Huge building sign in the background of an early scene: "Leather Products: HOLSTERS".

The director stresses how important it is for writers and directors to see films in a variety of theaters and neighborhoods. Otherwise you don't know how the audiences are really responding. He has studio stories about being a director for hire without creative rights in low-budget genre films: how one actress got a part because the execs wanted her husband for another film, how the film editor was somebody's son-in-law. The only thing AIP liked about his work was that he brought the picture in one day early: 17 days of filming. They thought he was a genius for that.

Funky score by Willie Hutch. Jack Hill said that because of time constraints other people handled locations, costumes and music, things he would ordinarily do. Quentin Tarantino told him that Jackie Brown was named for him and this film.



-Bill


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post #281 of 1409 Old 07-06-2010, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I Know Where I'm Going! (1945), written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

"I reached the point of thinking there were no more masterpieces to discover, until I saw I Know Where I'm Going!" -- Martin Scorsese.

This is one of my desert island movies: a wry, imaginative and good humored romance in the western isles of Scotland during the last year of WW2. I can watch it endlessly. Great landscapes, falconry, wolfhounds, parties, singing and dancing, a family curse, storms at sea, deadly whirlpools (Corryvreckan, a real place) and desperate survival at sea.

Joan (Wendy Hiller) is trying to get to her wedding on a remote island and is impeded by bad weather of various types. We never meet the groom, who is much older and the richest man in England, a chemical industrialist who sounds drunk over the radio. Joan never mentions love; she seems to be a genteel gold-digger and dreams of credit and flying banknotes on the train.

Torquil (Roger Livesey) is a naval officer on brief leave to visit his home, the same small island where he is the charming and happy laird. Stranded with Joan he falls in love and tries everything to divert her from her plans. He shows her around and talks up the place he loves, introducing her to all sorts of local eccentrics and taking her to a grand party where they dance all night. He argues with her and abuses her and even risks dying with her in her wicked and foolish gambit to get to the island, in the end saving her life.

Still no good. He has one last weapon: he invokes the ancient family curse, "a terrible strong curse." It works, and we have a happy ending.

The background story is almost as interesting as the romance. The area is not as prosperous as it once was: "they're all dead or in New Zealand." The big old houses are rented out to English summer visitors and the shabby gentry and cash poor locals get by as best they can. We see many subtle clashes of class and culture between the old and new, the locals and the visitors.

The picture belongs to Hiller and Livesey; I'll see them in anything. Pamela Brown and Finlay Currie are notable supporting characters, and watch young Petulia Clark as the precocious little girl who has to put up with her irritating parents. The hilarious Col. Barnstaple was played by real life falconer Capt. C.W.R. Knight.

I was astounded to discover that Roger Livesey went nowhere near Scotland when making the film. Rewatching I can see it now.

Seriously: don't miss this one.

Criterion DVD. Commentary track and loads of extras.



-Bill


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post #282 of 1409 Old 07-06-2010, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Hard Times (1975), directed by Walter Hill.

I watched this recently. Suffering from severe cropping, the rental copy I had was pan/scan only. Still an immensely enjoyable flick that reminded me of the "man-with-no-name" Eastwood series. Bronson is as cool as they come. Coburn and Martin are also at the top of their game. New Orleans also looks great.
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post #283 of 1409 Old 07-06-2010, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

I watched this recently. Suffering from severe cropping, the rental copy I had was pan/scan only. Still an immensely enjoyable flick that reminded me of the "man-with-no-name" Eastwood series. Bronson is as cool as they come. Coburn and Martin are also at the top of their game. New Orleans also looks great.

It is amazing how some actors, like Charles Bronson, who seem to lack emotional "affect", are still able to project deep feelings in their performances. I thought Billy Bob Thornton delivered a good example of this in The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).

On the disc history of Hard Times, for those who did not see the original review:

Quote:


The original US DVD release was a flipper with 4:3 pan & scan on one side and widescreen (anamorphic, I'm told) on the other. The reissue was 4:3 pan & scan only. Isn't that infuriating? The original aspect ratio is 2.35:1 so cropping it to 1.33:1 is a crime. Rather than take the risk that the seller of a used disc might not be aware of the differences, I imported an anamorphic PAL region 2 version. Prices are good now.

The Netflix rental I had earlier was 4:3 pan & scan. It's hard to tell with Netflix because they might have different versions in the warehouse, but I suspect the older discs get eliminated with use over time.

-Bill


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post #284 of 1409 Old 07-06-2010, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

I watched this recently. Suffering from severe cropping, the rental copy I had was pan/scan only. Still an immensely enjoyable flick that reminded me of the "man-with-no-name" Eastwood series. Bronson is as cool as they come. Coburn and Martin are also at the top of their game. New Orleans also looks great.

Funny you should mention that. Sergio Leone wanted Bronson for every one of the spaghetti westerns for which Clint Eastwood is now famous. Leone called Bronson "the greatest actor I ever worked with", and of course finally got him to work in Once Upon a Time in the West.

-Bill


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post #285 of 1409 Old 07-07-2010, 04:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Night Train to Munich (1940), directed by Carol Reed.

After a Czech scientist and his daughter escape to England, Nazi agents kidnap them and take them back to Germany. Rex Harrison (who lost them) instantly turns the tables and goes to Germany to steal them back again.

This is often compared to Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. Both are romance/thrillers with comic touches, both were written by the same people, both star Margaret Lockwood and feature "Charters & Caldicott", a pair of slightly dim and bumbling Englishmen who always seem to find the trouble spots (but who are stalwart when the chips are down). Both films use model work for buildings and trains which, although meticulous, are not very realistic by today's standards.

It's great fun, although the comic element doesn't emerge for about half an hour. The final segment with the night train, car chase and cable car battle are exciting and nicely tense. The last bit was copied in Where Eagles Dare thirty years later.

In the climactic shootout I counted 24 shots from Rex Harrison's revolver before it went click-click.

If you can do a German accent, here is a line by a Nazi bureaucrat you can quote in dull committee meetings: "In the future, don't make remarks that can be taken two ways!"

Criterion DVD, at last. This replaces the dismal Madacy VHS and DVD versions. Strangely, the Criterion disc has subtitles but I can't find a control for them on the menu. Use the remote button.

The image is slightly letterboxed. I wish they wouldn't do that, but I have been waiting for a good version of this film on DVD since day 1 and it would be churlish to complain.



-Bill


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post #286 of 1409 Old 07-08-2010, 03:29 PM
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Bill,

I just now noticed this link in your signature (on the -83 thread). This is fantastic! Your Shakespeare on film reviews sold me on your intelligent commentary and insights (not that easy to find in film reviews ), so this thread looks like a great resource.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write these up. I look forward to browsing through them.
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post #287 of 1409 Old 07-10-2010, 07:00 PM
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The Passionate Friends ...
Quote:
... is a 1949 British romantic drama film directed by David Lean. The film is based on The Passionate Friends: A Novel, a 1913 story by H. G. Wells It describes a love triangle in which a woman cannot give up her affair with another man. The film was entered into the 1949 Cannes Film Festival.

When shown in theaters in this country it was retitled One Woman's Story. Why? I don't know.

It features Ann Todd and Trevor Howard, both A-list British film stars of the time. Also Claude Rains, an actor well-known to USA movie theater goers then. The screenplay was written by Eric Ambler who would later become famous as the British writer of spy novels. Credits also to Stanley Haynes, David Lean and H.G. Wells.

The versatile Ronald Neame produced the film for the J. Arthur Rank organization.

What caused it to get the recent attention of the British Film Institute National Archive for a full restoration and HD remaster of both picture and sound is that it was directed by David Lean. It was recently released on SD DVD in the UK and I bought a copy from Amazon UK. It has not been released in the USA yet.

It is part of a David Lean Centenary Collection apparently based on his birthday having been in 1908.

There's a good Plot Synopsis here.

Quote:
Mary Justin (Ann Todd) is married to wealthy financier Howard Justin (Claude Rains), and while their marriage allows her to lead a comfortable lifestyle, there's little excitement in their relationship. While visiting Switzerland, Mary happens to run into Steve Stratton (Trevor Howard), with whom she was romantically involved years before she wed Howard. Mary finds herself falling for Steve once again, and she has to decide if she should leave her husband in hope of finding real passion or stay with a man who treats her well but whom she does not love. Leading lady Ann Todd married David Lean the same year this was released; it was the first of three films they would make together prior to their divorce in 1957.

I've seen some other films that star Ann Todd. She comes off as beautiful but a bit brittle. She essentially plays herself in her movies which she acknowledged in an interview I read. Trevor Howard and Claude Rains are more accomplished actors. At first I found the film a little slow but gradually it picked up tempo. Ultimately i liked it.

There are some striking B & W scenes dramatically lit for effect.

B&W Region 2 SD DVD. OAR 4x3. Mono sound. The digital remastering is terrific.

Trivia. The exterior scenes were shot on location supposedly in France, including Lac d'Annecy in the French Alps. But, the location looks identical to the exterior scenes in A Month By the Lake which was shot on location at Lake Como, Italy. I wonder ... Does one lakeside hotel in the Alps look like all the others?



Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #288 of 1409 Old 07-11-2010, 05:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Border Incident (1949), directed by Anthony Mann.

Dark, gritty and violent tale of Mexican and American police penetrating a gang who smuggle illegal farm workers across the border and sometimes murder them. (Some news stories have been running for a long time).

Ricardo Montalban (age 29) is lethally suave as the Mexican federal agent who goes undercover as a farm worker. I remember liking him as another policeman in Mystery Street (1950).

There is a famously horrific scene of murder by farm machinery. Civics class narration at the beginning and end.

We have a great lineup of villains in this film:
  • Howard Da Silva
  • Charles McGraw (starred in The Narrow Margin (1952) and was the gruff fisherman in the diner in The Birds)
  • Arthur Hunnicutt (grew a beard and played backwoodsmen)
  • Jack Lambert

Early André Previn score.



-Bill


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post #289 of 1409 Old 07-12-2010, 04:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Fantastic Planet (1973), direct by René Laloux.

Aka La planète sauvage.

Another entry in the "humans on the planet of large blue aliens" genre. Everything old is new again.

It's very strange and very French. The Traags employ scarcely comprehensible technology and do group meditation which sends their minds into different dimensions. The humans are lilliputian in size; some are kept as pets while most are feral. Our hero escapes captivity, takes a Traag teaching machine with him and joins a wild tribe. After overcoming superstition and tribal warfare the humans learn to build spacecraft and escape to a new satellite.

The film uses some fine drawing, although the animation is that sort where less effort went into presenting realistic motion. Bizarrely, no matter how alien and exotic the terrain and vegetation, even in French animated SF films, when the sex starts the soundtrack brings in the saxophones. When did we become conditioned that "sax" = "sex"? Is that a 1950s thing?

In another surreal aspect, the minds of the Traag, enclosed in crystal spheres, travel to their moon and become attached to gigantic headless marble statues where they commune, dance and perform "nuptial rights" with visiting minds from other galaxies. This is odd because the statues are of naked men and women, and neither the Traag nor (presumably) their visitors are human.

71 minutes long.



-Bill


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post #290 of 1409 Old 07-13-2010, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Sahara (1943), directed by Zoltan Korda.

Entertaining "lost patrol" adventure story about a tank crew and assorted soldiers trying to survive the desert and German pursuit. Humphrey Bogart stars and does a fine job. Don't insult his tank or you may end up walking.

One of the thirstiest films I can remember. California substitutes for Libya, but the terrain is incredibly bleak. The Germans are only half the battle; both sides are desperate for even a trickle of water. It becomes a siege story where the allies have a well and the axis wants it.

In addition to three Americans we have British, Irish, French, Sudanese Muslim and South African allies. Lloyd Bridges is either another South African or an Aussie; he didn't last long enough to produce an accent. Like many lost patrol stories it is an "and then there were none" plot as our characters are picked off one by one.

They also pick up a sympathetic Italian prisoner (J. Carrol Naish, nominated for an Oscar) and a nasty German officer (Kurt Kreuger; in the wikipedia article he is quoted as saying he passed out in the scene where Rex Ingram pushed his face into the sand).

There is a bit of speechifying about Hitler, Mussolini and "why we fight".

Also nominated for "Best Cinematography, Black-and-White" and "Best Sound, Recording".

Miklós Rózsa score.



-Bill


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post #291 of 1409 Old 07-14-2010, 04:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Sahara reminded me of this map, which they claim is the "Paramount Studio map of California's geographical facsimiles", from The Motion Picture Industry as a Basis for Bond Financing, 1927.



-Bill
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post #292 of 1409 Old 07-14-2010, 08:51 AM
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Bill, Sahara seems to be a unique example of a film of that era with an overt anti-racist stance. I can't remember if it was a German, or one of the Alllies, who belittles the Sudanese soldier. Bogart stands up for him.

Doug
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post #293 of 1409 Old 07-14-2010, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Sahara reminded me of this map, which they claim is the "Paramount Studio map of California's geographical facsimiles", from The Motion Picture Industry as a Basis for Bond Financing, 1927.

-Bill

A great find! California "before" it was "discovered." As I recall from reading this and that, after the advent of "talkies," the studios built big sound stages for indoor scenes and back lots were dressed to look like the outdoors. Exterior scenes were often enhanced with rear projection backdrops. I'm thinking of the 1934 film "It Happened One Night" as an example.

My recollection is that it was only after WW II that the studios ventured more "on location." Even then as color films became more popular, the bulk of the three-strip Technicolor cameras was limiting. The 1951 film "The African Queen" was notable in that it did use Technicolor cameras on location in Africa.

Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #294 of 1409 Old 07-14-2010, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Bill, Sahara seems to be a unique example of a film of that era with an overt anti-racist stance. I can't remember if it was a German, or one of the Alllies, who belittles the Sudanese soldier. Bogart stands up for him.

Doug

Yes, it was the Nazi, not wanting to be searched by someone of inferior race. There is also a friendly multicultural exchange between a Texan and the Muslim on the topic of marriage and keeping the missus happy.

Old films often treat minorities unkindly. It is what it is, a part of history. Later films overcompensate and we get a plethora of black angels and superheroes. The rarest thing during a long period of cinema is to find minorities who are just normal people. I'll look out for that in the future and note when it happens.

-Bill


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post #295 of 1409 Old 07-16-2010, 04:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Sheba, Baby (1975), directed by William Girdler.

Pam Grier, Chicago private eye with a big revolver, returns to home town Louisville to help her father out of a jam: thugs want his business. That doesn't work out so well and she has to climb the thug ladder to deal with Mr Big (who is actually pretty good in a rangey, Sam Elliott sort of way).

Less of everything this time, although the final section with a yacht and speedboats is new -- getting into Bond territory. A few action scenes, but otherwise it's pretty dull. She looks good in a wet-suit.

Several scenes show bemused spectators watching the filming.

This completes the "Fox in a Box" set which includes Coffy and Foxy Brown. A wasted fourth disc has a grand total of 30 minutes of bad extras.



-Bill


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post #296 of 1409 Old 07-17-2010, 04:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Poldark (1975).

Capt. Ross Poldark returns from the American war to find his house in ruins, his copper mining business collapsed, and his girlfriend engaged to his worthless cousin. During an evening of excess alcohol he gets the servant girl pregnant and, to the considerable surprise of his neighbors, marries her. She shows considerable grit and makes a place for herself in local society.

It's mainly a women's romance story with men in puffy sleeves, women in big dresses, dances and social maneuvering, love won and lost. But we also have murder, courtroom drama, mine disasters, smuggling, shipwreck and pillage. Like a lot of soap operas, and series in general, it's not hard to keep watching.

The first season is 16 episodes and was wildly popular on Masterpiece Theater in the US. It was shot on video, giving it a low-rent appearance by today's standards.



-Bill


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post #297 of 1409 Old 07-19-2010, 04:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Because of Him (1946), directed by Richard Wallace.

Deanna Durbin was a superstar of the 1930s and 40s, but until the multi-disc "Sweetheart Pack" appeared a few years ago I had never seen a single one of her pictures. Where had the wholesome and spunky operatic soprano been all my life? Now we have a new set of discs from the TCM Vault series.

The best of the previous collection was It Started with Eve (1941), a great screwball comedy with Charles Laughton. Here they are paired again, with Franchot Tone instead of Robert Cummings as the romantic interest. A waitress wants to break into theater at the top despite having no experience. She uses various levers and strategems on ham actor Charles Laughton, but playwright Tone is less than enthusiastic.

It's not as good as the earlier film. The first part runs smoothly and is fine according to the standards of the genre but goes off the rails at the 2/3 point (when she actually gets the job) and the movie never recovers. Tone is too sour to be a romantic lead and there is no sign of attraction between them anyway.

Durbin gives a knockout performance of "O Danny Boy". Laughton seems to relish playing the ham actor.

She wanted more serious roles, but the studio wasn't much interested and it wasn't what her fans wanted. She quit the movies at age 27. The wikipedia bio has many appreciations.

Miklós Rózsa score.



-Bill


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post #298 of 1409 Old 07-19-2010, 05:23 AM
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Fantastic Planet (1973), direct by René Laloux.

Aka La planète sauvage.

Another entry in the "humans on the planet of large blue aliens" genre. Everything old is new again.

It's very strange and very French. The Traags employ scarcely comprehensible technology and do group meditation which sends their minds into different dimensions. The humans are lilliputian in size; some are kept as pets while most are feral. Our hero escapes captivity, takes a Traag teaching machine with him and joins a wild tribe. After overcoming superstition and tribal warfare the humans learn to build spacecraft and escape to a new satellite.

The film uses some fine drawing, although the animation is that sort where less effort went into presenting realistic motion. Bizarrely, no matter how alien and exotic the terrain and vegetation, even in French animated SF films, when the sex starts the soundtrack brings in the saxophones. When did we become conditioned that "sax" = "sex"? Is that a 1950s thing?

In another surreal aspect, the minds of the Traag, enclosed in crystal spheres, travel to their moon and become attached to gigantic headless marble statues where they commune, dance and perform "nuptial rights" with visiting minds from other galaxies. This is odd because the statues are of naked men and women, and neither the Traag nor (presumably) their visitors are human.

71 minutes long.



-Bill

Fantastic Movie, some pun intended. I saw this many many years ago in a theater. It is actually next in my netflix que. According to reviews the story is said to be based on the Soviet occupation of Checkoslovakia in 1968. If memory serves me it was a little bizzare to say the least.
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post #299 of 1409 Old 07-20-2010, 04:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Where Eagles Dare (1968), directed by Brian G. Hutton.

A plucky band of commandos infiltrate an impregnable fortress, a popular 1960s trope and a plot Alistair MacLean used more than once. This one is elevated early on when we understand that the mission is not what it appears to be, that not everyone on the team is trusted, and that we are going to have to live with deception and mystery for much of the film. The key to the plot is: we know Major Smith has a cunning plan; is it still on track or are they all in serious trouble?

It is Richard Burton's show; Clint Eastwood is the stalwart sidekick. They mow down and blow up Germans by the gross. Even given the nature of the fantasy adventure, the mayhem they commit at the airfield with a bus is excessive.

Next time: bring snowshoes or skis. And a pack train for all of that dynamite. Good thing everyone in Austria speaks English. The cunning plan works improbably well.

It's a lovely looking film with all sorts of vertical space: the mountains, the looming castle, the tram cars. Some of the vertiginous action on the aerial cars is faked but some isn't; the stunt men earn their money.

Available on Blu-ray.

I read most of Alistair MacLean at one point and still get the urge from time to time. They are well told action/adventure stories without the Bond sex or other silliness. I think his earlier books are better than the later ones, which seem lighter, quicker, less plausible, and were probably intended as screenplays, which lessens their value as novels. Some of the very last ones look like plot outlines which were packaged as novels by his publisher after his death.

My favorites:
  • Night Without End (1959). Spy hunt and survival story on the Greenland icecap.
  • Fear Is the Key (1961). A sting against gangsters with a great "nothing is what it appears to be" setup. Oil rig, hurricane, diving. Made into a movie but I have not seen it.
  • When Eight Bells Toll (1966). Intricate tale of ship hijackers in the Western Isles of Scotland. Filmed with a young Anthony Hopkins, but I remember little about the movie.

I would like to revisit his first book, HMS Ulysses, a harrowing tale of suffering in arctic waters during WW2.



-Bill


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post #300 of 1409 Old 07-21-2010, 04:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Neither the Sea Nor the Sand (1972), directed by Fred Burnley.

Aka The Exorcism of Hugh.

What a eerie and unsettling little film. A romance/horror. I had never heard of it until I found it while browsing Susan Hampshire titles at Netflix.

Visiting the Isle of Jersey, a woman meets and falls in love with a brooding man who speaks elliptically about spirits and ghosts. It is a grand passion. He dies suddenly but their love reanimates his body and he returns to her. He continues to brood and does not speak, although she can hear his voice in her head. She's not imagining him; other people see him, too.

The film puts off the horror element as long as possible and it continues as a romance, although with that clinging and pathological type of love that becomes insanity. He tells her they don't have much time (for obvious reasons -- he's a corpse) and she must come with him. She resists and we go through a scary and distressing section when she tries to break the bond and he commits a murder. In the end love (or is it obsession?) is stronger than death.

I don't know who to recommend this to; collectors of the obscure and obliquely disturbing perhaps. I won't soon forget it. Love and death are always with us; what sort of story do we live in -- more romance or horror?

It is leisurely paced and matter-of-fact about the weirdness. The horror element is not very explicit or physical. Certain musical bits are wretchedly unsuitable. Susan Hampshire has a brief body double in a passion sequence.

Offscreen she is known for her efforts in dyslexia work and has often talked about her difficulty in reading and learning her parts.



-Bill


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