Review older films here: 1979 and earlier - Page 28 - AVS Forum
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post #811 of 1407 Old 08-20-2012, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Jaws (1975), directed by Steven Spielberg.

[*]The John Williams score: he has exhilarating chase music when out on the ocean pursuing the shark, the men in charge, masters of the sea. Then the shark hunts them and we switch to the ominous fright theme. In an inspired construction he combines both themes during the life-and-death battle, which I think contributes enormously to its excitement.

-Bill
Don't know if this is cited in the new Blu-ray version's bonus material but last year on a televised program about music in the movies, Spielberg (with John Williams here) tells a great story about how John Williams actually told him what kind of movie he'd made after Williams first saw the unfinished Jaws in order to write the music for it.

The Jaws story begins at the 1:45 mark:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3i1D6ugcrU
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post #812 of 1407 Old 08-21-2012, 04:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Mad Max (1979), directed by George Miller.

In the near Australian future, society is breaking down and sliding into a weird evil comic-book space. Degenerate gangs roam the highways and terrorize towns, while a decrepit bureaucracy does nothing. The only heroes are an oddball group of highway police, the coolest being Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson).

At first the terrorizing motorcycle gang seems too eccentric to be really scary, but as their brutalities mount we cringe more than laugh. When Max takes his family away the tension becomes excruciating as the gang tracks them down. After wrenching personal loss, Max, Destry-like, picks up his leathers and hits the highway again for vengeance. The violence tends toward the sadistic on both sides.

I had not seen this since the cheap videotape and cable days and the Blu-ray is a revelation, making it seem like a larger, more ambitious film. I didn't even know it was a scope ratio movie, and I'd never seen those colors before. The "American" dub is offered as an audio option, a lesson on how much dubbing can change the atmosphere of a movie, for the worse in this case.

Spectacular car crash stunts. I like the continuity of music with The Road Warrior (1981).

It was a small budget film, and according to the wikipedia article it held the record for highest profit-to-cost ratio until The Blair Witch Project.

Available on Blu-ray. The image is quite a bit better than I recall for The Road Warrior (1981) disc. It's rather fine in some scenes.

Some of the crew provide a light commentary track, mostly about the locations and filming. They make the photography sound dangerous, although there were no serious injuries.

mad-max.jpg

-Bill


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post #813 of 1407 Old 08-21-2012, 09:43 AM
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For me, Mad Max is one of the most rewatchable films ever made. After its initial run a local drivein used it as the "bonus" feature every weekend, running it 3rd so it would start about 1AM. Every weekend I told my girlfriend we weren't staying for it because I worked in the morning. And every weekend we ended up staying. I couldn't help it-once they got to the scene with intercept written on his car I was hooked. There's something primal about this film. For what its trying to be its nearly perfect.

"There is no truth. There's just what you believe."
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post #814 of 1407 Old 08-21-2012, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I never saw Mad Max at a theater or drive-in, but as I said in my review of The Road Warrior in the other thread, all the women we took to see it loved it. Inexplicable, unless there was a "Mel factor" at work.

-Bill


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post #815 of 1407 Old 08-22-2012, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
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The Naked Jungle (1954), directed by Byron Haskin.

Brazil 1901: an arranged bride shows up at a remote cocoa plantation to meet her husband, an unpleasant and tyrannical but fiercely manly man. Their relations are...difficult. He's tough but she's no pushover.

This much is a woman's romance novel: you can just imagine the lurid, semi-clothed covers. She has to find her way and make a place while retaining a sense of self-worth. She's anxious to please but won't be abused.

What's his problem? He's a tough guy virgin and is intimidated when he finds she was married before. He's sexually desperate but won't touch her until one night when he's really drunk.

In a strange plot twist it shifts into a survival thriller. Something evil approaches, which we eventually learn is a giant army of ants that destroys everything in its path. (I skipped this as a kid because at first I thought the TV Guide said "an army of giant ants" and was then disgusted by the lack of science fiction content). We have elaborate action and special effects scenes as they try to save the plantation (and themselves!) against the swarm.

Eleanor Parker, last seen in Caged (1950) is, frankly, stunning. I have always liked Charlton Heston, but his performances tend to be one-note: intense, filled with pride and ambition and pain, but always sort of "full on".

That's a pretty damned opulent plantation house. Did he decorate it himself? All the furnishings had to be hauled 2000 miles upriver and I don't know how he managed the stone columns.

Edith Head costumes. Produced by George Pal.

The Technicolor registration looks a bit off; a restoration might be gorgeous.

naked-jungle.jpg

-Bill


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post #816 of 1407 Old 08-24-2012, 04:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Never Say Goodbye (1946), directed by James V. Kern.

The Eleanor Parker festival continues.

Light, silly, sugary sweet romantic comedy about a little girl trying to get her divorced parents back together. They don't struggle very hard.

For dedicated fans of the stars only. My only excuse for reviewing it is to show off Errol Flynn and Parker in the thumbnails. When two such gorgeous and talented people appear together you have to take notice.

With Hattie McDaniel and S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall. Several Robin Hood jokes and Flynn does a Bogart impersonation with the man himself dubbing the voice. Flynn is a big guy but Forrest Tucker carries him around as if he were a child. We see Mommy kissing Santa Claus.

That's her Christmas Eve dress in the last three panes. She looks like Bellatrix Lestrange at Halloween.

Warner Archive DVD-R, available for rent from ClassicFlix.

never-say-goodbye.jpg

-Bill


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post #817 of 1407 Old 08-24-2012, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

The Naked Jungle (1954), directed by Byron Haskin.

I haven't seen this movie in ages. I remember reading the short story (Leiningen Versus the Ants) as a kid so when I saw the film in the theater I recognized the storyline. The movie was intense but I had a problem with mushy love stuff. wink.gif

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Movies

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post #818 of 1407 Old 08-24-2012, 11:44 AM
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The Eleanor Parker festival continues.

-Bill
smile.gif Glad to see it continue, too. She was not as celebrated as many of her contemporaries, but should have been, imo.

Still looking forward to your seeing (if you haven't already) and reviewing Pride of the Marines with Parker and John Garfield. Loved her in that one.
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post #819 of 1407 Old 08-26-2012, 04:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Hang 'Em High (1968), directed by Ted Post.

An ex-lawman, now an unlucky rancher, is mistaken for a cattle thief and murderer by a hasty posse and lynched. A marshal with a prison wagon cuts him down in time and takes him in. After he is cleared of the charges he becomes a marshal himself and tracks down members of the lynch mob, with other official duties sometimes interfering.

Clint Eastwood stars and we have many great familiar faces: Ben Johnson and Bruce Dern are particular favorites. Inger Stevens, last seen in The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) is a love interest with a secret sorrow, making her cool and reserved.

It's curiously dialogue-heavy at times, with discussion about the nature of justice and the law. Much of the photography seems purposefully undramatic, maybe in an attempt to make the story more gritty and real. A downside of so many familiar character actors is that they suggest a made-for-tv effort.

I see commentary describing this as an Americanized spaghetti western. Apart from some stolen Morricone music, I don't think that's true. The tone and content are entirely different. The Italian films don't have the same concern for law or conflicts of conscience, as when Eastwood regrets that the two young brothers are to hang. Where in Leone would you find two people who come together because of their shared pain, desire for revenge, and intuition that revenge will not heal them? Where the themes of mercy and forgiveness, as for Bob Steele's old-timer at the end? And where in this film is the spaghetti tough guy fashion posing and overblown operatic shootout?

Were there really public hanging festivals in the Old West? I'd need to research that.

Available on Blu-ray, a bare-bones disc, $6 at Walmart. The image is occasionally good, but mostly not.

hang-em-high.jpg

-Bill


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post #820 of 1407 Old 08-28-2012, 04:21 AM - Thread Starter
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The Long Goodbye (1973), directed by Robert Altman.

After Philip Marlowe takes a friend to Mexico he goes to jail for several days. The friend's wife is dead and the friend committed suicide. Is any of it true? His next case involves a missing husband from the same neighborhood and an erratic gangster looking for a lost suitcase of money. Want to bet all this is related?

This updating of Chandler is both like and unlike the books and 1940s films. Marlowe is now less of a knight errant and more of a goofball always talking to himself and the cat. But he still has a nagging need to get at the truth and doesn't cooperate with the police very well. We still have a seedy private eye ambience, and doctors, police and wealthy clients are all dangerously unreliable.

I have two problems: it's hard to take Elliott Gould seriously (but it's only a semi-serious role) and I don't seem to like Robert Altman (see Quintet (1979) and Nashville (1975)). The casual meandering, ad-libbed dialogue, limp comedy and dead-end bits irritate me.

Sterling Hayden (who hated acting) said this was the first of his performances he could stand watching. It looks like drunken, improvised ranting.

Brief nudity and a scene of shock violence. David Carradine and Arnold Schwarzenegger have uncredited bit parts.

long-goodbye.jpg

-Bill


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post #821 of 1407 Old 08-30-2012, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Ace in the Hole (1951), produced and directed by Billy Wilder.

Aka The Big Carnival.

A big city reporter, exiled from his usual haunts, arrives at an Albuquerque newspaper and tells them how lucky they are to have him. He's colorful, bigger than life and tends to suck all the oxygen out of the room. What he really wants is a big story he can ride back to the bright lights and big city.

After a year of going nuts in the boring boonies, he gets his story: a man trapped in a cave-in at an old Indian cliff dwelling. He milks it for all it's worth, but at first seems to pay his way: he's an energetic organizing force and gets the rescue effort moving. Then he crosses the line: rather than getting the guy out in one day, he delays the effort so it will take a week. He's good at twisting arms and bribing the sheriff with good PR.

You can probably guess what happens. There are unexpected parallels with Wilder's Double Indemnity, particularly when the wounded man returns to his office at the end. Hugo Friedhofer's intense score accentuates the noir tone.

Not everyone is cold-hearted, but it is a generally cynical perspective on the press, police, and marriage. The decent people, like the newspaper editor and Mom & Pop at the diner, are powerless. The general public is particularly unappealing: thousands mob the site to witness the tragedy, and the carnival atmosphere includes an actual carnival with rides.

It makes us feel guilty as well: a movie audience also has a morbid fascination with such events. The reporter -- like a good director -- makes everything more exciting: that's his journalistic talent.

From a review at the time: "...a brazen, uncalled-for slap in the face of two respected and frequently effective American institutions -- democratic government and the free press." That seems quaint in our more cynical age. Kirk Douglas thought that the poor reviews were because of the way the press is portrayed: critics don't like to be criticized.

Criterion DVD. The commentary track has some good insights, but mostly just narrates the story.

ace-in-the-hole.jpg

-Bill


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post #822 of 1407 Old 09-01-2012, 05:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Rose-Marie (1936), directed by W.S. Van Dyke.

A temperamental opera diva heads for the north woods to search for her brother when he escapes from prison. Without revealing too much information, she teams up with a Mountie who is also searching for the man. They sing their way through it.

I must have seen a Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy musical before, but if so I'm not remembering one. The titles have just started to become available on DVD-R.

This is not sophisticated romantic comedy but was more lively than I expected. MacDonald has comic talent; one funny bit has her trying to learn honky-tonk singing when broke. Her heavy makeup makes her look more like a silent film star. Eddy contributed greatly to the stalwart do-right Mountie mythology, but his character is good at flirting, in a gentlemanly way.

The way they hold the high notes: they were made for each other.

Small parts for David Niven and Una O'Connor. Surprise: James Stewart is the outlaw brother!

A large-scale "totem-pole dance" looks partly real, if much choreographed (and with a giant rolling drum also used for a stage).

Filmed around Lake Tahoe. Films made during the 1930s: there is something especially magic about moonlight on the water -- it must be the silver screen. It works in tropical settings and it works in the north woods.

Warner Archive title. The film is in pretty rough, unrestored shape. This is a case where the thumbnails look better than than the original images. That is more likely to happen with DVD than with Blu-ray.

rose-marie.jpg

-Bill


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post #823 of 1407 Old 09-02-2012, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

I never saw Mad Max at a theater or drive-in, but as I said in my review of The Road Warrior in the other thread, all the women we took to see it loved it. Inexplicable, unless there was a "Mel factor" at work.
-Bill

Funny, my only memory of Mad Max was it playing many times in a Bar of a sleazy Dance Hall I worked in back in the day (way back in the day)
A late night gig - 12:30 am to 4:30 am and there was always a regular stop at Dennys for the guys on the way home. Why it was on the Over The Counter TVs
was anyone's guess, but perhaps it fit the culture of the place and time.

This was one of a few films in the era that were flashing by with no audio. Just images in places that served booze to
people up late with questionable lifestyles. Kinda Miss it wink.gif
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post #824 of 1407 Old 09-04-2012, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), directed by Don Siegel.

A small town doctor gradually suspects something uncanny: people report their loved ones are "changing", although they appear to be the same. We don't encounter the first alien seed pod until the half-way point, then it's a race to escape and expose the unearthly menace which threatens to take over the world and, no small thing, disrupt the doctor's renewed chances with an old girlfriend.

A dandy classic efficiently told in 80 minutes, one of those little films ignored by critics at the time and only later appreciated. The locations help the realism of the story and the 1950s cars, clothes and nightclubs give a pleasant period ambience. I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) (a better movie than its title) is also good in this respect.

Kevin McCarthy is a likeable everyman hero and Dana Wynter is always lovely and smart. In a great bit, before either actually believes anything strange is happening, they talk about how each would know if the other had "changed". Why, a kiss would prove it. In the end, a kiss does indeed reveal the awful truth.

The director and cast deserve great credit for showing the "changed" as just ordinary people, more or less themselves without higher emotions, but not as leering or menacing monsters. No musical cues to their alienness, either.

This often gets a political interpretation; people argue that it is an allegory of communism or McCarthyism or both combined. Most of the original crew say no allegory was intended. The prologue and epilogue with the doctor in the psych ward was added after initial filming and this alters the interpretation somewhat. The original ending left the doctor on the highway with the trucks full of pods. That would have been something!

It raises other questions:

  • How paranoid should you be? Survival in this case rewards the extra-suspicious, but there is always the danger of being thrown in the loony bin.
  • Can love transcend all? It doesn't look like it.
  • The doc says that humanity has been draining away for a long time. The pod people don't seem unhappy... Is it that big of a leap?

The aspect ratio is the relatively rare 2:1 Superscope. It seems like a roomy frame, probably an illusion caused by viewing on a 16:9 screen: the image is wide but taller than the more common 2.35:1 Cinemascope ratio,

I reviewed the Philip Kaufman remake here: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).

Available on Blu-ray from Olive Films. The content is only 15GB, no subtitles. Image detail is variable, rather good in some scenes, just fair in others. ClassicFlix has it for rent.

invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-1956.jpg

-Bill


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post #825 of 1407 Old 09-07-2012, 03:47 AM - Thread Starter
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The Philadelphia Story (1940), directed by George Cukor.

An ex-husband devises a cunning plan to torpedo his wife's wedding with an up-and-coming politician. As an accidental bonus, the bride has a needed character reformation: mistakenly believing (via alcohol-induced amnesia) that she had sex with another man the night before the wedding, she decides not to be so intolerant of other people's imperfections. Meaning the ex-husband looks pretty good again.

Exquisite dancing around sexual topics in a Code-compliant way. The stage play origins are apparent in the overwrought speechifying, but I'm willing to forgive it in this case for such a lively presentation. Until looking up some details I had not realized that the comedy of remarriage was a recognized film genre.

Great comic talent all around: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant looking short next to James Stewart, and Ruth Hussey as Stewart's acerbic standby girlfriend, waiting for him to grow up a bit.

The play was written for Hepburn, who backed it on the stage and controlled the film rights. She needed a hit film after a series of flops and this did it for her. Understandably she just owns the Tracy Lord role and all her strengths come into play.

As a romantic comedy of class-conflict, the uppers win this one handily, repelling the ex-coalminer groom completely and absorbing the radical writer into their set. I love how the society Lord family is so much at ease and unaffected in their home, putting on a rich-folk act only to ensnare hostile outsiders. The kid sister is a hoot.

Franz Waxman score. Stewart delights us with his attempt at "Over the Rainbow".

My thumbnails are from the old single-disc edition. The DVDBeaver comparison shows the 2-disc special edition to be an upgrade.

philadelphia-story.jpg

-Bill


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post #826 of 1407 Old 09-07-2012, 06:57 AM
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For those who don't know, The Philadelphia Story was remade in 1956 as the musical High Society with an All-star cast in C O L O R!

As far as I'm concerned, this ranks (in the literal meaning of the word!) as one of the worst remakes in cinematic history. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Sinatra fan, but he doesn't gel with Bing Crosby OR Grace Kelly. To me, ALL of the actors appear to be trying to imitate the original cast and it just doesn't work. It's obvious to me that many of the interior shots are stages TRYING to look like interiors of glamorous houses. The original has a much more "real" feel to it. Even the songs, written by Cole Porter, appear to have been phoned in. There's not really a memorable one among them.

Stick to the original.

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post #827 of 1407 Old 09-10-2012, 04:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Murder, My Sweet (1944), directed by Edward Dmytryk.
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I caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black pool opened up at my feet. I dived in. It had no bottom.

Just out of prison, a gigantic ex-con wants Philip Marlowe to find his missing girlfriend. The detective also gets mixed up in ransom, jewel theft and murder, drawing unwanted attention from both the police and a crime boss, and receiving his usual dose of beatings and druggings (although I think he was in even worse shape in The Little Sister).

This might be incomprehensible if you didn't know the first rule of this sort of detective fiction: what appears as two cases is actually only one. Here the missing girlfriend really doesn't want to be found. Our task is to figure out how the plot strands join up: who is weaving the web?

The film is somewhere near the center of the hardboiled detective genre. It's a loose adaptation of Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely, one of his best books. They add a new romance plot and a sweet ending, but the interpretation is a good one, with innovative graphics showing that black pool of unconsciousness and the hallucinated smoke Marlowe sees when doped up.

Dick Powell is surprisingly fine as Marlowe, a naturalistic performance of an ill-used, worn-out detective. I always like Claire Trevor, but femme fatale is a bit of a stretch for her. Anne Shirley had been a child actress with 68 film credits total; this was her last picture and she retired at age 26.

Mike Mazurki, last seen in:

...is great as Moose Malloy, the big lug searching for his Velma. He plays it as written: a violent giant who sometimes seems not quite all there, but who uses a crafty intelligence to stay alive and find his girl. His one weak spot.

Chandler was so important to books and movies that he is easy to mashup and satirize, as in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid or The Big Lebowski, but the books are absolutely seductive, evocative renderings of 1940s LA. Marlowe is one of the best characters of 20th century literature: the righteous man in a corrupt world, the knight errant in a drab, dusty office. Chandler can write a vivid passage, but his prose is not quite as lurid as it is often lampooned.

murder-my-sweet.jpg

-Bill


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post #828 of 1407 Old 09-10-2012, 11:40 AM
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Bill's review of Murder My Sweet reminded me of how much I liked it and a lot of other '40s noir films. As Bill says, there is no bad Raymond Chandler, and his Philip Marlowe was never better than when Dick Powell, a former pretty boy crooner of all people, played him in Murder My Sweet.


Bill's review also reminded me of another terrific '40s noir thriller, Kiss of Death (1947), which I saw again last week. The old beefcake, Victor Mature was adequate but Karl Malden and Brian Donlevy were terrific. Richard Widmark, in his first film role, stole the show as the homicidal Tommy Udo. Widmark's performance garnered an Oscar nomination and made him a star. The screenplay, which has a taut 98 minute runtime, was written by Ben Hecht and never flags for a moment, despite some '40s dialog that is cringeworthy by modern standards.
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post #829 of 1407 Old 09-10-2012, 01:22 PM
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Movie: Maltese Falcon
Review: Go watch it. Its great. nuff said.
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post #830 of 1407 Old 09-10-2012, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

Movie: Maltese Falcon
Review: Go watch it. Its great. nuff said.

Concur! The Maltese Falcon has long been one of my all time favorite films and I have long owned it on disc. To steal a line in the film from Bogie and the Bard, "It's the stuff that dreams are made of."smile.gif
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post #831 of 1407 Old 09-10-2012, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
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My review here: The Maltese Falcon (1941).

The thumbnails are from the DVD; I wasn't able to do captures from Blu-ray back then.

-Bill


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post #832 of 1407 Old 09-10-2012, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwsat 
As Bill says, there is no bad Raymond Chandler, and his Philip Marlowe was never better than when Dick Powell, a former pretty boy crooner of all people, played him in Murder My Sweet.

It's interesting how well "Crime Pays" on one side of the law or the other later in the careers of some actors who started in showbiz as song-and-dance men; Powell, Cagney, Raft. And then there is the Sinatra of Tony Rome, The Detective and The First Deadly Sin. Might make a case for John Travolta and Christopher Walken on that count, too, I suppose.
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post #833 of 1407 Old 09-10-2012, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Murder, My Sweet (1944), directed by Edward Dmytryk.

Just curious about this title and the 1975 remake with Robert Mitchum & Charlotte Rampling. Any comparison?
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post #834 of 1407 Old 09-11-2012, 04:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Farewell, My Lovely (1975), directed by Dick Richards.

(Great minds think alike).

Another version of the great Chandler story.

Robert Mitchum is older than Marlowe as written, but gives a tremendous performance: the ageing PI, tired and sad-eyed. My favorite scene: he takes a bottle to an ex-singer in her grimy slum house. They sit, drink, sing her old songs and she has a good cry. It's fine filmmaking.

The seedy club and tenement settings, where Marlowe spends so much of his time, are nicely rendered, with a rich score evoking Chandler's LA.

Charlotte Rampling is a suitably dangerous beauty. The other villains seem a bit light to me, although I enjoy the monstrous madam. Compared to the 1944 film the plot is in some ways closer to the book, but in others not.

Way too much gunplay: Marlowe kills three people. In all the books put together he killed only one: Canino in The Big Sleep.

Brief nudity. Sylvester Stallone has a small non-speaking part. In the earlier film we deduce the Marriot character is gay from his clothes, cologne and precise manner; here we have that but they also call him a fairy.

A few years later Mitchum did a modern day The Big Sleep set in London. It's poor compared to this film and to the original Bogart version.

The region 1 DVD is long out of print and expensive on the used market. My thumbnails are from the PAL region 2 disc which is cheap but the quality poor. What do you call those vertical interference fringes near the sides of the frame? I associate them with videotape masters.

The IMDB says the intended aspect ratio is 1.85. We have 1.33, so unless it is open matte it's been cropped.

farewell-my-lovely.jpg

-Bill


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post #835 of 1407 Old 09-11-2012, 10:17 AM
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^^^^
Thanks for that.
Those thin black borders on the sides are masking the video control tracks that would normally be obliterated by over-scan in a CRT. Correct that this is a relic from broadcast and VHS. Absent those bars you'd see greenish thin stripes of noise at the edge of the image.
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post #836 of 1407 Old 09-11-2012, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

^^^^
Thanks for that.
Those thin black borders on the sides are masking the video control tracks that would normally be obliterated by over-scan in a CRT. Correct that this is a relic from broadcast and VHS. Absent those bars you'd see greenish thin stripes of noise at the edge of the image.

It doesn't show up well in the thumbnails, but old encodings like this one have shadow stripes on the margins even within the black bars. I presume it is also related to an early tape mastering workflow.

* * *

More on the two movies: the Mitchum version looks more like how I imagine Chandler, particularly the poor parts of town. Dick Powell gets pretty scruffy and unshaven, but in the 1940s the studio talent just couldn't resist perfect clothes, hair and makeup, and that applies to the rest of the film. It adds a fantasy gloss to what is much grittier on the page.

-Bill


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post #837 of 1407 Old 09-11-2012, 11:02 AM
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No denying that Mitchum had a knack for looking scruffy and worn.
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post #838 of 1407 Old 09-13-2012, 04:23 AM - Thread Starter
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The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951), directed by Henry Hathaway.

Not so much a war movie as a bio-pic of the field marshal's last couple of years: his growing disillusionment with Hitler and complicity with conspiracies to remove him. Worthwhile if you are interested in the history or the man. The failed bomb plot is always an exciting story, but Rommel was not directly involved. His treason was knowing about it and saying nothing.

James Mason played Rommel again in The Desert Rats (1953).

Rommel has always been everyone's favorite German general. It would be interesting to trace the development of his legend; it started at the time of the actual battles. See the wikipedia article for more. It says:
Quote:
As one of the few generals who consistently fought the Western Allies (he was never assigned to the Eastern Front), Rommel is regarded as having been a humane and professional officer. His Afrikakorps was never accused of war crimes. Soldiers captured during his Africa campaign were reported to have been treated humanely. Furthermore, he ignored orders to kill captured commandos, Jewish soldiers and civilians in all theaters of his command.

Late in the war, Rommel was linked to the conspiracy to kill Adolf Hitler. Because Rommel was widely renowned, Hitler chose to eliminate him quietly. Rommel agreed to commit suicide by taking a cyanide pill, in return for assurances his family would be spared.

desert-fox.jpg

-Bill


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post #839 of 1407 Old 09-13-2012, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Sometimes a Great Notion (1970), directed by Paul Newman.

Well, well. Available on Blu-ray Dec 18: http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/Disc_Announcements/Shout_Factory/Sometimes_a_Great_Notion_Dated_for_Blu-ray/10149

This never even had a standard DVD release in region 1.

-Bill


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post #840 of 1407 Old 09-14-2012, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
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A Night to Remember (1958), directed by Roy Ward Baker.

Still said to be the most accurate Titanic movie, it doesn't have the budget or special effects of later efforts, but is nonetheless a meticulous recreation of the ship and events. Fine period details in clothes and fixtures. Surviving passengers and crew consulted on the production.

We have a quick introduction to the maiden voyage and a select set of passengers from each class. Kenneth More is heroic Second Officer Lightoller, who survived. Then the iceberg at about 30 minutes in.

We know the story and the inevitable progress of the disaster, shown almost in real time. That makes it a kind of horror movie, with a difference: the crew performs well in getting the women and children to the boats and the passengers are at first more peevish than panicked. People behave rather well with many instances of heroism and sacrifice, but it's understandable that when the boats are all gone and the ice-water rising, conditions will become more chaotic. Then the deck tilts drastically and there is nothing to do but scramble and pray.

There are no real villains, just bad luck and a series of accidents. We tend not to like Ismay, the officious White Star chairman who jumps into a lifeboat with the women, just as we admire stoic ship builder Andrews who does everything he can and then goes down with the ship. The captain and crew of the nearby Californian don't come off very well.

Sean Connery is supposed to have an uncredited bit but I didn't spot him. Honor Blackman was Miss Galore in Goldfinger a few years later.

The commentary track is by two enthusiastic Titanic historians, praising the film for its accuracy and attention to detail, but also pointing out errors and fictionalizations. Many fascinating tidbits:

  • I did not know that very many of the incidental unnamed characters were real people: the commenters know all about them and expand their stories.
  • They say that there were no locked gates penning up the steerage passengers. The crew kept the men below and tried to bring the women up to the boats but many would not leave their men.
  • Many survivors say there was even less panic than shown. The final sinking was gentle without huge suction. Survivors in the water were not smacked with oars to keep them off the overturned boat.
  • The film does not show the ship breaking in two; it was not certain that had happened until the wreckage was found 27 years later. It was dark on the Atlantic after the lights went out and reports varied.
  • Lightoller served with distinction during WW1 and was sunk a couple of more times. As captain of his own ship he sunk a U-boat by ramming it. After retiring from the sea he participated in the Dunkirk evacuation of WW2.

Criterion Blu-ray with a superbly detailed image. Good grayscale, maybe a bit over-bright at the white end. Available for rent at ClassicFlix.

Wasn't the 1953 Titanic with Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb announced for Blu-ray a while ago? Amazon has Marketplace listings but nothing in their warehouse. It's been years but I recall it as a soap opera with the disaster as incidental background.

night-to-remember.jpg

-Bill


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