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post #1441 of 1453 Old 11-29-2014, 04:23 PM
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Thank you buddy for your continued updates on this thread!!
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post #1442 of 1453 Old 12-01-2014, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Samson and Delilah (1949), produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

Quote:
Nasty Philistine tax collector: "Next time we'll take your goats!"
As a Judge of Israel, Samson doesn't put much into the job and seems awfully susceptible to female charms, but when the chips are down he can summon the strength to pull down the temple, destroying his enemies and the oppressors of his people.

This has DeMille's characteristic stiff performances and lovely storybook backgrounds. The exception among the actors is acerbic George Sanders as the king: he's in a better film than the others.

The story gets a bit better when Delilah repents after Samson is blinded and enslaved. He forgives and tries to save her in the end...

Hedy Lamarr was known for her beautiful face and figure, limited acting ability, notorious litigiousness, and for inventing and holding a patent on Frequency-hopping spread spectrum radio control, originally intended as an anti-jamming technique for torpedoes, later the basis for Spread spectrum telecommunications.

Note that one of the posters features quite a bit of her underboob, pretty saucy for the time:



Edith Head is one of five costumers. Part of the set was rebuilt so that DeMille could appear as himself directing the picture in Sunset Blvd (1950).

Available on Blu-ray. The rich color scheme looks very similar to The Ten Commandments (1956). Detail is good, if not quite as fine as for the later film.



-Bill

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post #1443 of 1453 Old 12-08-2014, 07:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), directed by Ossie Davis.

A charismatic preacher running a "Back to Africa" campaign enjoys wide community and political support. The only ones not buying it are some neighborhood Militants and -- more importantly -- police detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones: "Two damn black maniacs on a powder keg". These would be Raymond St. Jacques and Godfrey Cambridge, who should have gotten a series out of this.

When the funds are stolen in a violent heist, it's off the races to find out who's doing what to whom. And why is everyone after a stray bale of cotton that has mysteriously found its way into Harlem?

I hadn't seen this for decades and it has a more filmed-in-the-streets look than I remember. I'd also forgotten gorgeous Judy Pace (nudity!) who worked a lot but was never a big star.

It's called early blaxploitation and does have a bunch of those characteristics: funny, sexy and violent, black vs white, people vs The Man, ordinary decent folk vs the exploiters.

It has has unusually pointed criticisms. Militants, crooked clergy, sincere clergy, church ladies, street hustlers, pathetic junkies: all spend time in the barrel.

On the down side, the plot loses coherence at times, and the crowds are hard to understand: they love you, then they hate you, but it's not clear why. It's also disappointing that our heroes have to be bailed out by the mafia guy in the end.

I'd forgotten: (1) Detective Grave Digger Jones carries a flare gun he uses to visit pyrotechnic mayhem on the bad guys, and (2) the Traveling Man: a character walking through several scenes who seems to be looking for a bed.

Small roles for Redd Foxx and Cleavon Little.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino.



-Bill

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post #1444 of 1453 Old 12-11-2014, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
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It Happened One Night (1934), directed by Frank Capra.

Quote:

He: (referring to a bus seat) That upon which you sit is mine.

She: (pause) I beg your pardon?
A runaway reporter picks up a runaway heiress and teaches her to get some grit and be less spoiled. Do you think they might fall in love, too?

Much is made of noir photography in later decades, but look at it's precursor in the lovely composition and lighting here. This is the magical Silver Screen. Moonlight on the water, a haystack under the stars, smoking in bed with faint light from outside, rain beating on the window.

Made right at the end of the pre-Code era, there is nothing really outrageous here, although an unmarried man and woman -- registered as Mr & Mrs -- did not often share a motel room, undress and spend the night together in film, even if separated by a hanging blanket.

Claudette Colbert in her undergarments: I think the censors put an end to that for a few years.

Clark Gable was from Ohio. What accent does he use? It seems to me he sometimes tries to talk "black" as way of demonstrating style and rebelliousness.

He also threatens quite a bit of violence toward her as a means of instruction and discipline. Does he mean it? She accepts it passively and appreciates his manliness.

This is what Depression audiences wanted: a peek at the frivolous but likeable rich, but also reassurance that the stressed common folk had kindness, dignity and fortitude of their own. You want a director sympathetic to the down-and-out, their hopes, humanity and good humor? Frank Capra is your man.

Watch Gable wave at the tramps on the train, and see how they laugh and wave back.

Finally let me note the bouncing bus ride. A lot of films from the period didn't even try to suggest that level of realism.

Criterion Blu-ray. The quality is nothing special by today's standards, but still a great improvement over earlier home video, with some variation between reels. It looks fine for an 80 year old film.



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post #1445 of 1453 Old 12-12-2014, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I have wanted to create an index of my reviews for a while, but that's hard to do with forum software. I've started copying reviews to my own off-site pages.

First results here: Strange Picture Scroll.

I'll add to it bit by bit, probably doing batches by director.

Please forgive the rudimentary layout; I'll spiff it up later, time and energy permitting. There may also be dead links until I get more reviews transferred.

On the other hand, the bare-bones style lacks adverts and javascript, which is kind of novel these days, eh?

Thanks everyone for reading! Hope you find good films.

-Bill

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post #1446 of 1453 Old 12-12-2014, 08:25 AM
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Bill -- Thanks for your review of It Happened One Night. It is one of my favorite films. Gable and Colbert were at their charming best. If a better romantic comedy was ever made, I'm at a loss to name it.
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post #1447 of 1453 Old 12-13-2014, 08:13 AM
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I havent ever sen IT HAPPEND ONE NIGHT.... But I know how good Mr. Gable is!!
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post #1448 of 1453 Old 12-13-2014, 08:23 AM
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Great movie and one of my personal favorites. I believe it was the first movie to win the "big 3" of Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress.

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post #1449 of 1453 Old 12-14-2014, 01:56 PM - Thread Starter
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The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

A life of Jesus, closely following the gospel, shot in a simple matter-of-fact style -- including the miracles -- using mostly natural locations and local non-actors.

The costumes suggest a variety of time periods and the music is an eclectic mix: Bach, Mozart, Prokofiev, Odetta ("Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child") and Blind Willie Johnson ("Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground").

It's remarkably reverential for the controversial, non-believing director. No satire, no political agenda. Dedicated to the Pope.

The actor playing Jesus has an big head and tiny body, which is very weird in some shots. Some of the teachings are delivered in a rapid monotone.

Like all Christmas pageants or Shakespeare plays, seeing the story shown again, from a new angle, lets us see it and think about it in fresh ways.

The DVD is poor quality, with English subtitles burned into the image.



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post #1450 of 1453 Old 12-15-2014, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoyGBiv View Post
Great movie and one of my personal favorites. I believe it was the first movie to win the "big 3" of Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
It actually won the Big Five: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. The only two movies to repeat that success have been One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Silence of the Lambs.

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Curator, Laserdisc Forever

My opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employers.

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post #1451 of 1453 Old 12-17-2014, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Duck, You Sucker (1971), directed by Sergio Leone.

In 1913 Mexico, a scruffy bandit patriarch picks up a disillusioned Irish revolutionary who specializes in explosives. Juan now sees his life's dream within reach: cracking a big bank. Sean may have other ideas.

Although I have enjoyed some of his earlier work, with his fifth western I finally warm up to Leone. I like it better than anything he did previously:

  • Gone is the tough-guy fashion show. Much more dress-down now.
  • No big arena duel, less sadistic violence.
  • The characters are no longer types, but actual people who change and develop new depths in the story.
  • The buddy-film formula works out nicely here.
  • Once we are past the bank job at the midpoint, I couldn't have predicted where the story would go.
  • Actions have consequences. Leone still loves trains, titanic explosions and mowing crowds down with machine guns, but doing so causes later tragedy.

Normally I would be restless during his long mood shots or those extreme closeups, but Leone and his editor seem at home with their techniques now and have delivered a film that keeps me involved, uncomplaining.

Rod Steiger's "method" lays on the Mexican peasant bandit pretty thick. His accent reminds me of Pacino in Scarface (1983). Leone would do two dozen takes just to wear him down and make the performance smaller.

James Coburn's Irishman is more laid back, if tormented with secret sorrow. ("I used to believe in many things. Now, I believe only in dynamite"). Coburn asked that his lines be reduced as unnecessary to the performance. Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood would do that, too.

Neither actor was Leone's first choice. He wanted Eli Wallach for Juan and Jason Robards or Malcom McDowell for Sean, but the studio decided to go for bigger names.

Leone was doing political commentary here, replying to left-wing fashions in Italian film at the time. He was more of an anarchist than a socialist. The film opens with quotes from Chairman Mao, then cuts to Juan pissing on an anthill.

Juan later gives his opinion on Revolution:

Quote:

The people who read the books go to the people who can't read the books, the poor people, and say, "We have to have a change." So, the poor people make the change, ah? And then, the people who read the books, they all sit around the big polished tables, and they talk and talk and talk and eat and eat and eat, eh? But what has happened to the poor people? They're dead! That's your revolution. So, please, don't tell me about revolutions! And what happens afterwards? The same ****ing thing starts all over again!
The Italian title means "keep your head down, don't get involved". I always knew the film by its American title A Fistful of Dynamite, but it has also been called Once Upon a Time in the Revolution.

Ennio Morricone score. Filmed in Spain and Ireland.

Available on Blu-ray with an excellent commentary track by a Leone biographer.

He provides a wealth of background and production info, and much insight into Leone's intentions. The film works off the film genre of Mexican Revolution adventures, but also illustrates incidents that happened in WW2 Italy.

He points out that if you use the alternate title, it shows that his final three films are a long trilogy:

  • Once Upon a Time in the West (1968): the end of the West
  • Once Upon a Time in the Revolution (1971): the time of revolutionary turmoil
  • Once Upon a Time in America (1984): the urban darkness

This may be a longer cut than I've seen before. I hear more f-words than I remember, and see several extended scenes.



-Bill

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post #1452 of 1453 Old Today, 04:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Holiday Inn (1942), produced and directed by Mark Sandrich.

From an era prolific with singing-and-dancing pictures, this one has some standout features:

  • The intersection of great talent: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Irving Berlin.
  • The gimmick is a good one: a country inn open only on holidays, said to number 15 in the year. We never hear the complete list: is Arbor Day included?
  • Rich settings, more country locations than usual.
  • Introducing the best-selling single recording of all time.
  • Some metaphysical disorientation: they abandon the Inn, move to Hollywood and reconstruct the Inn on a soundstage (obviously the same set as the "real" Inn in Connecticut), film a story about returning to the Inn, then return to the Inn in Connecticut for the finale.

The downsides are the expected limitations of musicals: thin plot, some weak skits and inconsequential love triangles.

The female leads are talented and likeable, but we wonder what a little more star power would have provided. In fact, they wanted Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth but didn't have the budget. That would have been something to see!

This has a famous black-face Lincoln's Birthday number, which I'm told has been censored on TV. The song is a good one. Minstrelsy obviously seems very weird today, although not intended as racist or offensive at the time. Patronizing and insensitive: sure. It was still big in the 1940s; by the time we get to White Christmas (1954) they could still do minstrel numbers, but without the blackface.

Misc notes:

  • The scene where Astaire dances drunk: he really was, just trying to be convincing.
  • You know: there's nothing wrong with his singing voice.
  • We get FDR's Four Freedoms in one of the routines.
  • Edith Head gowns.

Available on Blu-ray in both original and colorized versions, with the traditional pastel palette for color. The B&W version is from a better master. A commentary track gives good background info.

For a change I've used the colorized versions for the thumbnails:



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post #1453 of 1453 Old Today, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hitchfan
There is a moment in Bullitt that comes and goes in a flash but I will always remember it getting a sizable smattering of applause in the theater when it occurred. McQueen is getting dressed for the day, looks into a mirror and does nothing more with his hair than brush a couple of fingers through the front and move on. Seriously, that tiny, seemingly unconscious gesture got a round of applause from both men and women in the 1968 theater audience.
 
Yes I reckon it did...... I think the ending is good also when he goes into his house and sets his revolver down and the camera looks @ it.. (Gives some suspense of something else happening)

I finally got an original analogue copy of this movie on VHS.... I first had a 1998 release and they had ripped the audiotrack apart (THEY MADE THIS MOVIE STEREO (It wasnt the original master used (Audio didnt sound that good in analogue either (Some of it didnt and @ first I didnt know why (Then I discovered they did this and was in search for an original PURE copy of the movie))))) -- I finally found an older Warner Bros Release (1986 I think) and this one IS THE ORIGINAL MONO RELEASE on its original analog master))

Im very,very much for PURITY and I cant stand it when they do stuff like this.... THE MOVIE (OR SONG) IS MONO,LEAVE IT THAT WAY!!!

I love BULLIT,one of Steve's best!!!!!!!!
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