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post #121 of 1347 Old 03-13-2010, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

It's Love I'm After (1937), directed by Archie Mayo.

Quick and witty screwball comedy with Leslie Howard and Betty Davis as ham stage actors, and Olivia de Havilland (taking a break from Errol Flynn) as an adoring fan.

Eric Blore has some priceless lines as the devoted and very swishy valet. Spot Bonita Granville in the annoying kid sister role; she made four Nancy Drew pictures in 1938-39, later doing some film noir work I am still waiting to see.

Leslie Howard died in 1943 when his plane was shot down over the ocean. He will always be the Scarlet Pimpernel and Prof Henry Higgins to me. If he had lived he would be remembered as one of the century's great actors and directors.

Warner Archive title, available for rent from http://www.classicflix.com/.

-Bill

Although the motive isn't entirely clear, the shooting down of Leslie Howard by a German Junkers JU 88 while in a civilian passenger plane (a DC-3) flying from Portugal to England - along with all the other passengers (including children) and crew - was no accident. The story would lend itself to a movie in its own right. May they all RIP.

Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #122 of 1347 Old 03-13-2010, 05:40 PM
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This afternoon I watched the 1939 British film "The Four Feathers." It's ...

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... a 1939 adventure film directed by Zoltan Korda, starring John Clements, Ralph Richardson, June Duprez, C. Aubrey Smith. Set in the 1890s during the reign of Queen Victoria, it tells the story of a man accused of cowardice. It is one of a number of adaptations of the 1902 novel of the same name by A.E.W. Mason. The movie was mostly filmed in the Sudan in Technicolor.

It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

The color is Technicolor of the supersaturated kind. I thought for a moment i was seeing a travelogue but then, I doubt that most readers of this post would know what a travelogue was. Hence, the link.

In some ways this film is unique for the period in that much of it was shot on location in the Sudan. (The Brits always called it "The Sudan." You know where that is of course.)

Quote:
Sudan (pronounced /suˈdæn/ soo-DAN; officially the Republic of the Sudan) (Arabic: السودان ‎As Sūdān)[4] is a country in northeastern Africa. It is the largest country in Africa, and the Arab World,[5] and tenth largest in the world by area. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. The world's longest river, the Nile, divides the country between east and west sides.

If words don't do it, how about a map?



"I see," said the Blind Man. (Oops! That's part of our story.)

Mucking around in that part of the world seems to have been a British tradition. Mention of Khartoum (The capital city of Sudan which I know you already knew.) always conjured up thoughts of exotic locales in my mind. Veiled women, camels, spies lurking in every door, etc. That isn't far off actually. This is the fourth filming of the original novel of the same name mentioned above. Three more films with the same title have been made since 1939 making seven in all, but some think this is the one that got it right. One would hope so.

Lots of British military on parade, stiff upper lips, explosions, fights with Dervishes, Fuzzy-wuzzies and other local tribes. Considering that there was no such thing as CGI in 1939, the scenes of huge numbers of tribal warriors on the move is most impressive. (Thoughts of the 1962 film "Lawrence of Arabia" came to mind.)

See what I mean? The Brits loved to play in the sand in this part of the world. And of course fought the Germans there in WW II. Rommel vs. Montgomery, et al.

This film was directed by Zoltan Korda and produced by his brother Alexander Korda. (Vincent Korda, a third brother, was also a noted film producer/director e.g., "The Longest Day" 1962) It is a well-made movie, especially so for its time.

It's on a Netflix rental SD DVD © 2005. Technicolor. OAR 4x3. Mono sound. Playback was problem-free.



Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #123 of 1347 Old 03-14-2010, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
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North by Northwest (1959), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

One of Hitchock's most popular films, a light comedy/adventure/romance given lavish treatment. Cary Grant's last Hitchcock picture; it was a good run.

Eva Marie Saint can smolder as needed, but otherwise seems pretty passive. James Mason projects whatever degree of refined villainy is required; he always makes it look easy.

The plot doesn't make a lot of sense (murder by drunk driving? by crop duster? microfilm in a statue?) but we don't much care. This time it seemed to me the story is all about "trust". Those who trust often come to bad ends in Hitchcock. But against the background of who is cheating who, a man and woman, by fits and starts, can break through and start believing in each other. Love is the answer!

I noticed plot similarities with Notorious where Grant is again in love with a double agent who is sleeping with the enemy. Ingrid Bergman's drunken driving is repeated here with comic effect. And remember Saboteur, where a villainous foreign agent falls off another national monument.

Bernard Herrmann score.

The first Hitchcock available on Blu-ray.

-Bill
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post #124 of 1347 Old 03-15-2010, 06:35 AM - Thread Starter
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The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959) and The Indian Tomb (1959), directed by Fritz Lang.

I don't know the story behind these movies, or what Fritz Lang was trying to accomplish. It is a German-made adventure/romance of a Princely State in colonial India, although we sometimes see modern dress and automobiles.

Obviously an expensive production with elaborate sets and costumes and some beautiful on location use of Indian palaces. The story is dull, sometimes suggesting folk tales or opera plots. It most closely resembles an old fashioned matinee serial for kids and I suppose it can be enjoyed on that level, but it is pretty tough sledding. No acting required, and we don't get any.

Debra Paget does some exotic temple dancing. Is this performance offensive to Hindus? I wouldn't doubt it for a moment.

Beautiful color, although the original aspect ratio is 1.37:1, which is narrow for a 1959 color epic. I notice a distracting lighting effect: some spotlight or reflector is shining on part of every scene.

In addition to the original German there are English audio and subtitle tracks: they seem only vaguely related. Even the names and nationalities are different.

-Bill
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post #125 of 1347 Old 03-15-2010, 05:22 PM
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Today I watched "Random Harvest" ...

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... a 1942 film based on the 1941 James Hilton novel of the same name, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Claudine West, George Froeschel and Arthur Wimperis adapted the novel for the screen, and received an Academy Award nomination for their work. The film departed from the novel in several significant ways, as it proved nearly impossible to translate to film otherwise. Ronald Colman and Greer Garson starred as a shellshocked, amnesiac World War I soldier and his love interest.

It was an instant critical and commercial success. Its seven Academy Award nominations included nods for Ronald Colman, supporting actress Susan Peters, director Mervyn LeRoy, and the Best Picture. Greer Garson, whose performance was well-received, was ineligible for the Academy Award for Best Actress, as she had already been nominated that year for her role in Mrs. Miniver.

It was quite a successor to "Mrs. Miniver" for Greer Garson and undoubtedly would have gotten her at least another Academy Award nomination if she's been eligible. Nowadays the studio would have managed its release so she would have been eligible. It brought some attention, as did the popular novel, to a condition known as "shell shock" or more accurately combat stress reaction (CSR).

It seems to me that there were several films of this period that used amnesia as a plot mechanism, whether accurately or not. A wack on the head = amnesia.

On a Netflix 2005 SD DVD restored and remastered version. B&W. OAR 4x3. Mono audio. It played well.


Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #126 of 1347 Old 03-16-2010, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Isle of the Dead (1945), produced by Val Lewton, directed by Mark Robson.

Inspired by Arnold Böcklin's painting of the same name.

A Greek general (Boris Karloff) enforces a plague quarantine on an island during wartime. A hard skeptical man, his rationality cracks and he begins to believe that a vorvolaka, an undead creature, is preying upon them. Or is it just the plague?

A dark, funereal air broods over the story. Disturbed graves, premature burial, childhood nightmares returned.

What scares a skeptic? The possibility that his unbelief is not well-founded, and that reality is not what it seems to be.

Very dark throughout, finely composed.

No commentary track.



-Bill
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post #127 of 1347 Old 03-17-2010, 06:37 AM - Thread Starter
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An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1972), directed by Kenneth Johnson.

Vincent Price reading and performing four stories. It's like a one-man stage play and the acting is exaggerated and overblown like stage acting, but this is appropriate to the material.

The stories:
  • The Telltale Heart
  • The Sphinx
  • The Cask of Amontillado
  • The Pit and the Pendulum

This could be a good introduction to Poe for those who have not read him. The language of that period can sometimes be ornate and certain literature (Shakespeare, for example) is much easier to read after you have seen it performed.

"The Sphinx" is one of his weaker stories, relying on an impossible optical trick.

I read Kenneth Silverman's biography Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance a few years ago. His was a sad, tragic story. Always struggling, often ill, never successful or recognized.

Fifty-three minutes long, shot on video for TV.

-Bill
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post #128 of 1347 Old 03-17-2010, 06:56 PM
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Tonight I finished watching "Malta Story":
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Malta Story is a 1953 black and white war film based on the heroic defense of Malta, the island itself, its people and the RAF aviators who fought to defend it. The film uses real and unique footage of the locations at which the battles were fought and includes a love story that ends with the death of the hero (a RAF pilot) and the execution of a young Maltese man who became an Italian spy.

It featured an all-star UK cast including Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Steel, Muriel Pavlow, Flora Robson and others who appear briefly in bit parts.

On the one hand, I thought Alec Guiness was miscast. He seems almost uncomfortable in this leading, romantic role. The young, lovely lesser known female lead Muriel Pavlow (still alive!) outplayed him. She is more lively and relaxed. Maybe Alec was trying too hard with the stiff upper lip. Of course the late Jack Hawkins was always tops. Those who know Flora Robson as an English character actress may find her playing a Maltese mother a bit disconcerting but I don't have that frame of reference and thought she was very believable.

The real star of this movie is Malta itself. I read a book years ago about Malta's struggles in WW II as an unsinkable aircraft carrier blocking the Axis supply route to North Africa from Italy/Sicily. Its people suffered terribly. The island itself received the George Cross in 1942 awarded by King George VI. "To honour her brave people, I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history."

The film incorporates archival wartime footage of aerial combat, ships at sea and the dramatic arrival of the oil tanker SS Ohio in Malta harbor so battered and crippled that it was tied to a destroyer to keep her afloat and never sailed anywhere ever again. Her ordeal alone is worthy of a movie.

This film really is a tribute to the Maltese and the men and women of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force who helped defeat one of the greatest menaces to civilization in history. It makes most so-called heroic films look cheesy and cheap by comparison. For airplane buffs, there are quite a number of shots of real Spitfires, Bristol Beauforts, Fairey Albacores and German airplanes of the period.

It's on a SD PAL Region 2 DVD released in 2004. B&W. OAR 4x3. Mono sound. I own it but had never watched it with my current 47" LCD and OPPO Digital BDP-83. It played well. Netflix has it but some say it is a Chinese copy with Chinese subtitles. This is what my keep case cover looks like.



Don't settle for less.

Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #129 of 1347 Old 03-18-2010, 05:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Bedlam (1946), produced by Val Lewton, directed by Mark Robson.

Costume story from the Georgian Age of powdered wigs, when people paid admission to the insane asylum to have a look at the loonies. Boris Karloff is the doctor in charge, corrupt and sadistic but strangely witty.

Lewton's final horror film; like the others in the RKO series, it is more of a thriller than explicit horror, and has more comedy than the others. Of course, it is not so funny when someone we care about gets locked up in the asylum and threatened with some (unspecified) Infernal Psychiatric Torture Engine.

I don't find zombies, werewolves or vampires scary: they don't exist. But mental institutions and abuses therein: that's real and that's scary!

Trivia: this film is the only IMDB citation for William Hogarth (1697-1764), due to his inspiring paintings for The Rake's Progress.



Detailed commentary track.

-Bill
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post #130 of 1347 Old 03-18-2010, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Equus (1977), directed by Sidney Lumet.

Fairly heavy film about psycho-sexual-religious derangement. Good cast, with Richard Burton as the troubled shrink, talking to the camera. He realizes that psychiatry is not enough, but doesn't know what else to do.

I have not read or seen the play so can't comment on the adaptation. Gruesome, hard to watch climax of horse mutilation, not real but still wrenching.

Everyone in psychiatry-themed movies seems to be cracking up to some degree.

Some nudity. I would particularly like to thank Jenny Agutter for her efforts in this direction.

The DVD is 4:3 letterboxed.



-Bill
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post #131 of 1347 Old 03-19-2010, 05:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Hiroshima mon amour (1959), directed by Alain Resnais.

French actress and Japanese architect share a couple days of love. Mostly this is boy meets girl, their passion and struggles. A deeper layer concerns her memories of a tragedy during the war, also a matter of love.

An early segment contains horrific footage of A-bomb casualties, and there is an amount of peace-march hectoring. Made fourteen years after the bomb, we see much of the the city rebuilt.

Some beautiful photography, sometimes a bit too consciously arty. Perhaps it seemed less so at the time. Parts remind me of Wings of Desire, especially the elegiac music. The dialogue occasionally wanders off into French-film-speak.

Criterion DVD.



-Bill
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post #132 of 1347 Old 03-19-2010, 05:46 AM
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Bill,

The last two posts you've put up apparently include images of movie posters. What I see is a white rectangle that says "No hotlinking please. MoviePosterDB.com."

I get mine mostly from Wikipedia.

Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #133 of 1347 Old 03-19-2010, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drbonbi View Post

Bill,

The last two posts you've put up apparently include images of movie posters. What I see is a white rectangle that says "No hotlinking please. MoviePosterDB.com."

I get mine mostly from Wikipedia.

Dana

That's odd. I see the posters on my system. I wonder what the difference is?

I'll refrain from using MoviePosterDB.com in the future. Thanks for the alert.

-Bill
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post #134 of 1347 Old 03-19-2010, 06:32 AM
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"The Fallen Idol" is a 1948 UK film produced and directed by Carol Reed based on the short story The Basement Room by Graham Greene who also wrote the screen play.

Quote:


Plot.

The film is told through the naive eyes of a diplomat's young son, Phillipe, who idolises his best friend, the diplomat's butler Baines. Baines has constructed a heroic persona, full of exotic adventures, that fascinates the boy. In reality, the servant is stuck in a loveless marriage, while dreaming of happiness with a younger woman (whom he describes to Phillipe as his niece). After Baines has an argument with his jealous wife, she falls from a landing to her death. ... Phillipe believes that he has seen Baines deliberately murder her, and the boy's attempts to protect Baines when the police investigate ...

... lead to a seat-squirming, suspenseful conclusion. (Sorry. Don't want to give the final scene away.)

The film was released in the USA in 1949 and re-released here in 1954.

It's filled with top flight actors including Ralph Richardson, Michèle Morgan, Jack Hawkins and Bernard Lee (early in their film careers) and a child actor Bobby Henrey in the lead role. (This was essentially his one-and-done movie career.)

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film.

It's a dandy film in its own right with terrific cinematography by Georges Périnal and solid acting by a very competent cast. But, it occupies a place in film history because of one man - the director Carol Reed. This film was one of a succession of films - Odd Man Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948) and The Third Man (1949) - noted for their excellence which established Reed's reputation.

This SD DVD issued by Criterion includes a special feature made just for Criterion in appreciation of Carol Reed, consisting of interviews and film clips. He was considered a director's director, a man of great patience, respectful of his actors and especially gifted regarding the direction of child actors.

A Netflix rental. SD DVD issued in 2006. B&W. OAR 4x3. Mono sound. Playback was problem-free.



Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #135 of 1347 Old 03-19-2010, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

That's odd. I see the posters on my system. I wonder what the difference is?

I'll refrain from using MoviePosterDB.com in the future. Thanks for the alert.

-Bill

No problem. Whatever you did fixed things.

Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #136 of 1347 Old 03-20-2010, 05:30 AM - Thread Starter
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The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), directed by Billy Wilder.

Leisurely paced, reverent bio-pic of Lindbergh and his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Jimmy Stewart is 20 years older than his character, but both were 6'3" and had the same boyish charm.

Several flying replicas of the plane were built for the movie and there are some exciting moments; wondering whether he would get off of the ground reminded me of the early space launches. I think some of the dramatic incidents of the movie are fiction, but it has been so long since I looked at the book that I can't be sure. I did not remember the film being color or widescreen, an indication of how long it's been since I last saw it.

Lindbergh was a towering heroic figure of the twentieth century, whose biography has never been completely presented on film. He married Anne Morrow, also an aviator, who later became a fine author. Their baby was kidnapped and murdered in the "crime of the century". Before the war he was accused of racist and pro-Nazi sentiments. A leader of the isolationist America First movement, after Pearl Harbor he signed up and served in the Pacific. After the war he consulted on aviation issues in government and industry and adopted some environmental causes.

I recall several TV movies about the kidnapping, and an early Tracy and Hepburn film, Keeper of the Flame (1942) (not on DVD), seemed to me an anti-Lindbergh vehicle.

Franz Waxman score.



-Bill
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post #137 of 1347 Old 03-20-2010, 08:35 AM
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Well done.

There is little doubt that Lindbergh was a racist and a Nazi sympathizer. Certainly an isolationist. But, a majority of the country was until Pearl Harbor. Ambassador to Britain Joseph Kennedy - the father of Ted, Jack and Joe Jr., all killed in mid-life - also thought Nazi Germany was too powerful/dangerous to fight and that Britain would lose its battle with Nazi Germany.

Lindbergh was naive and over-impressed with Germany's air force. He had plenty of company at the time.

IMHO.

Dana

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post #138 of 1347 Old 03-21-2010, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Westworld (1973), written and directed by Michael Crichton.

The robot-staffed theme park of the future, where guests indulge in their every whim, mostly those of sex and violence. The guns in Western World have safety features that prevent the clients from shooting each other; I don't know what they do about swords in Roman World and Medieval World.

What could possibly go wrong?

This is pretty low-intensity excitement, picking up only in the last half hour. It could have been tightened up. What was with the big comical bar room fight? What purpose did that serve?

Yul Brynner is fine as the Gunslinger, getting a lot out of the impassive (but strangely yearning) implacable robot killer.

Crichton anticipates his own Jurassic Park here, not just the park but the hubris of its operators and breakdown of the system. It's also an early prelude to The Terminator and the recent virtual reality stories where we struggle to distinguish between simulation and reality, as well as the ethical trauma of mixing real and synthetic humans, as in the recent Battlestar Galactica.

The clients who go to Delos are portrayed as an unappealing lot. People play games for a lot of reasons, but the message is that those who try to fool themselves into believing they are people different than they really are...well, that's an unattractive aspect of human nature.



-Bill
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post #139 of 1347 Old 03-22-2010, 06:46 PM
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"I Was Monty's Double" is a 1958 UK film directed by John Guillermin, from a screenplay adapted by Bryan Forbes. It was based on a book by M. E. Clifton James, the real impersonator of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the commander of all Allied ground forces during the D-Day invasion of Europe in 1944.
Quote:


About seven weeks before D-Day in 1944, a British Lieutenant-Colonel, J.V.B. Jervis-Reid, noticed Clifton James's resemblance to Montgomery while he was reviewing photographs in a newspaper; James, it seemed had 'rescued' a failing patriotic show by appearing in it, quite briefly, as 'Monty.' MI5 decided to exploit the resemblance to confuse German intelligence. James was contacted by Colonel David Niven, who worked for the Army's film unit, and was asked to come to London on the pretext of making a film. The ruse was part of a wider deception which aimed to divert troops from northern France, by convincing the Germans that an Allied invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon) would precede a northern invasion.

The film utilizes Clifton James in person to relive his exploits, although of course the film-makers had to invent some scenes to provide more action, including a fictitious attempt by the Germans to kidnap the impersonator. The film has a bit of tongue and cheek about it and plays well. I read both the original book and saw the film years ago, possibly on VCR tape.

The resemblance of Mr. James to the genuine general is uncanny.

This is on a PAL Region 2 SD DVD released in January, 2007. B&W. OAR 4x3. Mono sound. It probably is a copy from tape mentioned earlier. The intensity of the black and white varies but may be caused in part by the use of filters to simulate nighttime scenes shot in broad daylight. It is quite enjoyable in any event.



Dana

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post #140 of 1347 Old 03-23-2010, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
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The City of the Dead (1960), directed by John Llewellyn Moxey.

Aka "Horror Hotel". In the public domain and available online for free. My DVD was from Madacy, known for their bottom of the barrel quality since the VHS days.

Set in New England but made in England with a young Christopher Lee, already sinister. Very dark throughout. A tale of witchcraft survival from colonial times, still a problem in 1960. The ending is very much like something from Hammer Films. I would have used someone else for the brother, or at least redubbed his voice.

People note parallels with Psycho, released the same year. The blonde protagonist does not last past the first half and her friends and family come looking for her. Hitchcock is on a higher level, although we have loads of atmosphere here on a more modest scale. The early segment before she hits the road is awfully stiff.

It actually more closely resembles a Lovecraft story, something like The Shadow Over Innsmouth: obscure New England village, locals tell you to stay away from it, residents pretend nothing is going on, but it actually hides an unspeakable secret from the past...



-Bill
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post #141 of 1347 Old 03-23-2010, 06:16 AM
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Bill,

You win the "Who has the biggest movie poster" contest.

Dana

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post #142 of 1347 Old 03-23-2010, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Bhowani Junction (1956), directed by George Cukor.

Ava Gardner is a proud Anglo-Indian soldier in the years before Indian Independence, not at home in either culture, despised on both sides.

The poster makes it look like a passion/romance story, but it is really more of a historical epic filmed on location in Lahore. What looks like a cast of thousands reenacts the passive resistance strikes of the Congress Party, while a violent communist faction blows up trains and incites riots.

For a long time the India of Hollywood was all about colonial adventures bordering on fantasy. The world changed in 1947 and the film presents a more realistic, politically charged story. Casting Stewart Granger as the commanding officer was an inspired way to symbolize that narrative shift. After all of those swashbucklers he now plays a graying colonel keeping order as best he can, preparing for the inevitable British withdrawal.

I think the story goes on a act too long with a kidnapping and bomb plot. They also tack on a happy ending that makes the start of the film seem deceptive.

Gardner, always a beauty, projects real pain and a troubled conscience as a woman caught up in the turmoil.

Miklós Rózsa score.

Warner Archive title, available for rent from http://www.classicflix.com/.



-Bill
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post #143 of 1347 Old 03-24-2010, 03:10 PM
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Last night I had the privilege of seeing the 1951 film "The African Queen" on Blu-ray. Possibly the best film of all time.

It's been reviewed by just about everyone. I won't attempt another. Just outstanding in every way. And the digital restoration is a huge success. I hope that this results in a BIG financial payoff so the studios will invest in more such restorations of classic movies. Lawrence of Arabia anyone?

Finally, a new Special Feature is included "Introducing Chaos: Making The African Queen" that runs for a little over an hour and is very informative, not only about this particular film but also about the problems with using three film strip Technicolor cameras on location. (Huge 4' x 3' wooden boxes for soundproofing the noise of the already large camera inside with its three separate primary color film strips running in sync.)

Don't miss it.

Dana


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post #144 of 1347 Old 03-24-2010, 06:17 PM
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Tonight I watched a 1944 film "Ministry of Fear." I'd call it a "sleeper," meaning a film that has escaped a lot of notice but is a gem of a certain genre. One reviewer has called it "... a well-made, thoroughly gripping and intelligent example of film noir."

Another review captures its essence well.

Quote:


Forget the phony studio settings and the script's hesitancies in adapting Graham Greene's novel about a spy hunt in wartime London. This is a wonderfully atmospheric, almost expressionistic thriller, packed with memorable moments: the jolly village fête ominously taking place at night; the open door of the railway carriage and the muted tapping which heralds the arrival of the blind man out of a cloud of steam; the rat-like tailor using an enormous pair of cutting-shears to dial his call of warning moments before they are found plunged into his stomach. And right from the opening shot of Milland waiting alone in a darkened room for the stroke of midnight - the magic hour which will release him from one paranoiac nightmare (the mercy killing of his wife) into another - Lang sets his characteristic seal of fatality on the action.

It features a cast that was destined for bigger roles and more attention later in their careers. Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Carl Esmond, Hillary Brooke and Dan Duryea. It's notable for the director, Fritz Lang and a wardrobe by Edith Head, an A-film costume designer if there ever was one! (You can win a trivia contest with this question. "Who has won more Oscars than any other woman in history?" Answer: Edith Head with eight!)

This wasn't one of them but it's a good flick nonetheless.

Yet, curiously it's not available on a NTSC DVD. I had to order a PAL Region 2 DVD to see this movie. Strange. B&W. OAR 4x3. Mono audio. It plays well.



Dana

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right." Mark Twain
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post #145 of 1347 Old 03-25-2010, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
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The Leopard Man (1943), produced by Val Lewton, directed by Jacques Tourneur.

If you were in a New Mexico resort town where a black panther was prowling and leaving mangled corpses from time to time, would you go walking around at night? And might it be possible for a murderer to use the cat as cover for his own opportunistic mayhem?

A small film only 66 minutes long, but with plenty of scare moments. It sometimes diverts into little human interest sidelines. From a story by Cornell Woolrich.

Most critics view this as one of the slightest films in the series, but this essayist gets quite a lot of good out of it: The Strange Pleasure of the Leopard Man.

Rambling but heartfelt commentary track by William Freidkin. He tends to summarize what we are already seeing.

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post #146 of 1347 Old 03-25-2010, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Road House (1948), directed by Jean Negulesco.

Tough cookie Ida Lupino is a singer who comes between club owner Richard Widmark and his manager Cornel Wilde. Celeste Holm is the reliable gal pal.

Builds slowly. The ticking bomb is, of course, Widmark, from whom we expect a psychotic eruption at any time. It happens in the last fifteen minutes.

Lupino is one of my favorite actresses from the period. Not conventionally glamorous, she still has pixy charm, intelligence, and a core of steel. She does her own singing here, and explains her non-pro performance by saying that she lost her voice when young.

She did less acting after a while and became a director.



-Bill
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post #147 of 1347 Old 03-26-2010, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
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The Ghost Ship (1943), produced by Val Lewton, directed by Mark Robson.

A new officer on a cargo ship begins to think the captain is murderously insane.

A minor effort that develops slowly, although the situation of being shunned and suspected in an isolated setting is kind of nightmarish. One nice touch is a mute seaman who is in a world of his own; he provides a private narration for the story.

The captain maintains that "authority cannot be questioned". If the crew goes along with that and he does whatever he wants without consequences, is he really insane?

One of their ports is San Sebastian, site of I Walked With a Zombie. No voodoo on display this time. No ghosts on the Ghost Ship.

This film was locked up for fifty years because of a legal dispute about the screenplay.



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post #148 of 1347 Old 03-26-2010, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Black Christmas (1974), directed by Bob Clark.

Aka Silent Night, Evil Night. Made in Canada but set in the US.

I wanted to see this because (1) it stars Olivia Hussey, and (2) it has a following as the prototype slasher/dead teenager/sorority house of death story.

Quite a lot of comedy. In particular, the drunken house mother is a hoot.

The dementia of the psycho killer approaches the demonic, but we never get an explanation. A little of this goes a long way with me.

The Blu-ray picture looks like an average DVD.





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post #149 of 1347 Old 03-27-2010, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
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David and Bathsheba (1951), directed by Henry King.

I first saw this as a child and it has remained one of my favorite Bible movies. Old Testament stories used to be a busy film genre; whatever happened to them?

Starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward, with Raymond Massey as the smugly pious prophet, irritating, but, in the end, right.

I can understand why the film is not highly rated. Costume epics of that time can be pretty stiff, the action scenes are unconvincing, the story lends itself to soap opera, and we get cliche ingredients like the standard spicy dancing girl moment.

And yet, it has its good points. Gregory Peck is very kingly and seems more natural in the role than the others. David is haunted by his own history, his battles against Saul and Jonathan. Against a pastoral background we have the tale of his many crimes: passion for another man's wife, a sordid cover story for her pregnancy, and the murder of her husband. Because of these sins the land suffers drought and windstorms; as we know from Arthurian legend, the king and the land are one.

But then: honest repentance, acceptance and conciliation. How often do you see that in in a movie? The final half hour is intensely moving, and the scene where he plays the harp and chants his psalm is very fine.

A subplot features the Ark of the Covenant, seen in certain later films as well.

Lush Alfred Newman score. Five Academy Award nominations.









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post #150 of 1347 Old 03-28-2010, 01:08 PM
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I recently watched the 1949 UK film "The Small Back Room."

Quote:


The Small Back Room (1949) is a film by the British producer-writer-director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger starring David Farrar and Kathleen Byron and featuring Jack Hawkins and Cyril Cusack. It was based on the novel of the same name by Nigel Balchin. In the United States the film was released as Hour of Glory.

Plot

Sammy Rice (David Farrar) is a scientist working with a specialist "back room" team during World War II. He is brought in to solve the problem of booby-trapped devices being dropped from Nazi bombers. But Sammy and his girlfriend Susan (Kathleen Byron) have to overcome some problems with bureaucracy as well as the pills and booze that Sammy takes to control the pain caused by his artificial foot.

It's an "Archers" ensemble cast meaning that many of the actors had appeared in earlier Powell and Pressburger films.

Quote:


In 1943 they formed their own production company, Archers Film Productions and adopted a distinctive archery target logo which began each film. The joint credit "Written, Produced and Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger" indicates their total joint responsibility for their own work and that they weren't beholden to any studio or other producers.



The Criterion Collection SD DVD was released in 2008 and includes excerpts from Michael Powell's audio dictations for his autobiography. So we hear Powell's opinions and observations about this film and related matters in his own voice although he died in 1990.

This DVD also includes an interview with award-winning British cinematographer Christopher Challis that is very interesting. He was born in 1919 and is still alive!

These Criterion Collection discs are very special in that the film itself is usually restored to first class shape and there is added content of value to the film enthusiast.

While the film has artistic merit, it didn't do well at the box office. Powell accepted that the fault was his. He saw it as a love story in a WW II setting. The Brits may have seen it as a WW II story with love interest thrown in. By the late 1940s, the Brits were tired of WW II. They'd lived through it, had a lot of heroic "I won the war" movies thrown at them immediately after, and weren't ready to flock to yet another war drama, especially one in which the protagonist spends most of his time feeling sorry for himself.

I thought the film was a bit artsy, featuring some special effects that were supposed to simulate the psychological problems of the leading character that didn't come off. The type of anti-personnel bomb depicted had no counterpart in fact and conveniently falls in small numbers only in a few locations. Its resemblance to a benign object that a passerby might pick up is never fully developed.

Finally, on a personal note, while the penultimate bomb disposal scene is supposed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats, it is tame compared to those offered in the 1979 UK TV series "Danger UXB" since released on four SD DVDs in the USA.

Worth seeing for its historical value as one of the Archers productions, it falls short of being memorable.

It's a Netflix SD DVD rental. B&W. OAR 4x3. Mono sound. It plays well.

Dana


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