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post #1501 of 1520 Old 03-14-2015, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
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The African Queen (1951), directed by John Huston.

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Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.
When I first saw this it seemed to me that Bogart and Hepburn lacked chemistry. It works better for me now. At first they squabble like an old married couple, then fall in love like goofy teenagers. Somehow I missed the fade-to-black sex scene. Afterward she calls him "dear" and gives him breakfast in bed -- a blanket on the deck.

Something I noticed for the first time: Jack Cardiff's photography and the score by Allan Gray give this a strong Powell & Pressburger tone. Even the titles remind me of their films.

A notoriously difficult shoot, the African scenes figure in several histories and biographies, as well as a Clint Eastwood picture: White Hunter Black Heart (1990). Huston was always difficult: he and Bogart lived on whiskey instead of water, which Hepburn admits kept them from getting sick. She wasn't so lucky.

It's not all on location: they use studio and process shots and some model work.

Is the film unkind to the locals? They scramble for a castoff cigar and seem generally unlovely. At least they show up for Methodist services and leave their weapons at the door, even if they don't know the hymns. Anyway: they're gone after the first 10 minutes.

Available on Blu-ray.



-Bill

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post #1502 of 1520 Old 03-14-2015, 01:41 PM
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The African Queen (1951), directed by John Huston.



When I first saw this it seemed to me that Bogart and Hepburn lacked chemistry. It works better for me now. At first they squabble like an old married couple, then fall in love like goofy teenagers. Somehow I missed the fade-to-black sex scene. Afterward she calls him "dear" and gives him breakfast in bed -- a blanket on the deck.
I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating!

Oh yes, it's really a funny moment, isn't it? It's really a story of her awakening isn't it. I grew up with this film, and never fail to be moved at her brother's death, her anguish at this, Charlie's uneasiness in her presence ... well they both awaken, don't they. I can see the racism in it -- I read old 1920s National Geographics from leather-bound books that an elderly friend of mine had from her late husband, and in them they repeatedly referred to locals as "peons" -- but with films like this, I have to remember when they were made, the focus of the story (and minimize the things that really should NOT be in focus), etc.[1]

[1] As a corollary, I rewatched my DVD of Emmanuelle recently, and had forgotten that part of her "awakening" towards the end is being raped in an opium den while her older date watches ... and later given as a sexual reward to the winner of a Thai kickboxing match (though I think she "picks" her fighter). Surely considered racy stuff back then in the 1970s (one of the promo taglines, "X was never like this"), but today it was enough to spoil the movie for me, I probably won't watch it again.

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post #1503 of 1520 Old 03-15-2015, 08:48 AM
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain
When I first saw this it seemed to me that Bogart and Hepburn lacked chemistry. It works better for me now. At first they squabble like an old married couple, then fall in love like goofy teenagers. Somehow I missed the fade-to-black sex scene. Afterward she calls him "dear" and gives him breakfast in bed -- a blanket on the deck.
 
Gosh Billy how did you ever pick this movie to add to the thread buddy??

I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!!! -- I have the original 1984 release by CBS/FOX and its outstanding!!


I LOVE MR BOGART!!!!!!!!!!! -- What do you think of Mrs. Hepburn?? (I like her alot...... ON GOLDEN POND is another good one she is in)
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post #1504 of 1520 Old 03-18-2015, 07:24 AM - Thread Starter
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I Confess (1953), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

My wife asked "What was that one with Montgomery Clift as a priest...?" I might not have gotten this down for while otherwise, but it plays better than I remember, even if not completely satisfactory.

The strongest feature is Clift's wonderful performance as the wrongfully accused priest who cannot defend himself. This despite Hitchcock's frustration with the Method acting. It works well here.

Karl Malden is a dependable rock as a police detective who knows when something is not quite right. Anne Baxter was brought in at the last minute.

This is a strangely structured film for Hitchcock. We have the innocent man falsely accused, but his conscience renders him passive and defenseless. He must suffer silently and is saved by a twist of "luck".

Other problems: it is humorless and plot heavy with too much of the story told in flashbacks. The villain is not much of a character and, like the hero, doesn't do much.

Of course, suffering for the sins of others is a Christian theme, and you can see it played out by a priest in another recent film: Calvary (2014) with Brendan Gleeson.

The Truffaut interviews have a long section on this title. Hitchcock admits the humorlessness is a problem and says it shouldn't have been made because non-Catholic audiences simply couldn't accept the priest being bound by the seal of the confessional.

Quote:

Hitchcock: Do you feel there is a connection between my Jesuit upbringing and the heavy-handedness of I Confess?

Truffaut: Not necessarily. I attributed that to the austerity of the Canadian climate, which is further weighted down by the Teutonic gravity of Otto Keller and his wife.
Like Hitchcock, the murderer's wife is named "Alma".

Banned in Ireland: a priest can't have romantic relations with a woman, even if it did happen in his earlier life.

Dimitri Tiomkin score, overly dramatic. Filmed in Quebec.



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post #1505 of 1520 Old 03-18-2015, 12:34 PM
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Unless I'm overlooking something, can you link to the release that you're viewing, and taking captures from. Maybe on blu-ray.com or widescreenreview.com...?

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post #1506 of 1520 Old 03-18-2015, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Unless I'm overlooking something, can you link to the release that you're viewing, and taking captures from. Maybe on blu-ray.com or widescreenreview.com...?
For I Confess? It's an ancient DVD, as far as I know the only one ever done for North America.

In the reviews, I always mention the Blu-ray if that's what I've seen, and the label if significant. Else assume DVD, and I'll give the details only if there are multiple versions, or it is an import.

-Bill
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post #1507 of 1520 Old 03-21-2015, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Purple Noon (1960), directed by René Clément.

This version of The Talented Mr. Ripley drops us into the middle of the story, which is fine: we don't need an elaborate setup. Rich American Philippe Greenleaf ("Dickie" in the book) is wasting his life having a good time in Europe and his parents have hired Tom Ripley to go and fetch him back.

Ripley likes the life of the idle rich and sees no reason why it shouldn't be his. Adept at forgery and impersonation, if Greenleaf were out of the way he could assume his life, take his money and even his girl.

In the book the first murder seems a spontaneous outburst of frustration (Tom overheard girlfriend Marge call him a "fairy"). In this film it seems more calculated.

A problem with these stories: you can't stop with just one murder. After an unexpected survival scene on the sailboat, Ripley is coolly competent, always one step ahead of the police.

Lovely photography, beautiful people and gorgeous sailboat and ocean scenes. The characters are supposed to be American, but are played by French actors.

Alain Delon is so damned pretty we are meant to wonder about his sexual orientation. Author Highsmith claimed Ripley wasn't actually gay, but rather nonsexual. (I'm guessing real sex involved loss of control which he wouldn't want). In later books Ripley marries but the physical side is not very important to them.

A final shock: the ending is changed to make it softer than the book, more of a moral tale. French films have become more syrupy in recent years, but back then they were more often less sentimental.

Nino Rota score.

Criterion Blu-ray.



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post #1508 of 1520 Old 03-28-2015, 08:49 AM - Thread Starter
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The Enforcer (1951), directed by Bretaigne Windust and Raoul Walsh.

A tight, very gritty police procedural told in flashbacks. After a key witness dies, prosecutor Humphrey Bogart must come up with last minute testimony or Mr Big of a murder-for-hire ring will walk.

This must have seemed intensely realistic and brutal at the time, and in fact still does. Great credit goes to Ted de Corsia for establishing the tone. We first see him in prison as a state witness: sweating, terrified, a ruined man. Then we have the flashbacks to when he is the cool, imperial lieutenant of the organization and realize how far he has fallen.

Another plus: we don't have the documentary-style voice-over narration customary in a lot of these realistic films.

The police and prosecutors play a hard game: they threaten to seize the children of uncooperating witness, and propose death by failure to protect gang members who are reluctant to testify.

This film introduced the vocabulary of mob "contract" and "hit" to film audiences. Inspired by true events of the Murder, Inc. investigation and trial.

This is the second time Bogart shot Bob Steele; see The Big Sleep (1946).

Raoul Walsh directed most of the film but refused to take credit. At Bogart's request he took over when the original director became ill.

Hard-charging David Buttolph score.

Available on Blu-ray from Olive Films. No subtitles. Detail is ok, but black levels poor.



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post #1509 of 1520 Old 03-29-2015, 11:15 PM
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Red face

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The Birds (1963), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

-Bill
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post #1510 of 1520 Old 03-31-2015, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
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The Raven (1963), directed by Roger Corman.

Extremely slow moving, tepid horror comedy. The score is painful Mickey Mouse circus music.

Said to be popular at the time. I'm guessing that audiences, enjoying the Corman horror series to that point, were entertained by a comic rendition of the gothic themes.

The actors seem to be having fun; they contributed to the script and did some improvisation

Richard Matheson screenplay. Filmed in 15 days. Young Jack Nicholson has a good part.

Reflecting: does anyone read Jack Vance? The community of wizards and their mansions here reminds me of his Dying Earth magicians, which he often presented with a comic spin.

Available on Blu-ray with an enthusiastic commentary track and wealth of technical detail.



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post #1511 of 1520 Old 04-05-2015, 08:27 PM
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"The Visitor" 1979, is a mesmerizing film, so artistic with an alluring quality rarely seen today. The movie has Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, John Huston (yes, that film director), Lance Henriksen ("Alien"), Sam Peckinpah, Shelly Winters, Neal Boortz (the radio show host on Atlanta, where the movie was filmed), and Paige Conner. I recognized the Atlanta Omni Center that was there when the movie was made; absolutely a wonderful time capsule of a downtown metropolis, Atlanta in the late 1970s. A very "arthouse" film that has been released on DVD and blu-ray.
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post #1512 of 1520 Old 04-06-2015, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Love in the Afternoon (1957), produced and directed by Billy Wilder.

The daughter of a Parisian private eye has to warn a wealthy American playboy that a jealous husband is about to shoot him. That good deed done, she can be his next sexual conquest if she's willing. Oddly enough: she's willing.

The witty sexual innuendo is poured on thickly here, with something naughty and sparkling in every paragraph. For example:

Quote:

[jealous husband getting a report on his wife's torrid affair, with photos...]

Detective: American. Very rich. Oil, construction business, turbo-jet engines, Pepsi-Cola...

Client: "The Pause that Refreshes"?

Detective: No, that's the other one: "Pepsi-Cola hits the spot!"

Client: (moans)

[later, the detective with his daughter...]

Daughter: He's got such an American face, like a cowboy or Abraham Lincoln.

Detective: You know what happened to Lincoln? And right in the middle of a performance!

Daughter: (startled, wide-eyed)
Gary Cooper is way too old for Audrey Hepburn, but maybe audiences remembered him from earlier decades (when Marlene Dietrich reportedly said "Ooh, Daddy, would you buy me one of doze?") and figured the glamor was still operating.

This actually makes for some ingenious chemistry: at first she doesn't seem interested in him personally, but is rather intrigued with the idea of sexual abandon with a notoriously great lover. She can't help falling for him for real, of course.

It's a bit too long and the humor wanders into unneeded absurdity, as with the gypsy band in the steam bath.

Franz Waxman score.



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post #1513 of 1520 Old 04-06-2015, 11:22 AM
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"The Visitor" 1979, is a mesmerizing film, so artistic with an alluring quality rarely seen today. The movie has Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, John Huston (yes, that film director), Lance Henriksen ("Alien"), Sam Peckinpah, Shelly Winters, Neal Boortz (the radio show host on Atlanta, where the movie was filmed), and Paige Conner. I recognized the Atlanta Omni Center that was there when the movie was made; absolutely a wonderful time capsule of a downtown metropolis, Atlanta in the late 1970s. A very "arthouse" film that has been released on DVD and blu-ray.
For a split-second, I thought you were referring to The Earthling, with William Holden (one of his, and the director's, last film IIRC), directed by Peter (The Italian Job) Collinson. Collinson succumbed to cancer after completing production (ironic; the lead character is dying of cancer and returns home to Australia to pass away in the outback), the star was felled by a teak night table a couple of years later.

I remember it opening to tepid box office (more like a swan dive into an empty pool), during the era when Star Wars and Close Encounters knock offs were all the rage. But some critics gave it good reviews, calling out Holden's performance with young Ricky Schroder. He had long passed from being a box office draw, and the film wasn't so startlingly good that word of mouth could boost it. Still, would like to see it some day.



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Love in the Afternoon (1957), produced and directed by Billy Wilder.

-Bill
I sometimes wonder if your reviews are better than the movies. "Oddly enough: she's willing. ... unneeded absurdity, as with the gypsy band in the steam bath." (Wha-?!)

Maybe worth it just for Audrey ... and Franz Waxman's score. The man was amazing when he wanted to be.

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post #1514 of 1520 Old 04-06-2015, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I sometimes wonder if your reviews are better than the movies.
I have noticed that well-chosen stills sometimes suggest a film is better than it actually is. Even a dull movie can have fascinating shots. You see that all the time thumbing through film books. No doubt this is the power of imagination at work.

Perhaps a similar effect works for capsule reviews.

I don't bother reviewing a title if I have nothing good to say about it, but on the other hand no one should presume these are all masterpieces.

I wouldn't dare assemble a "must see" list for anyone else, but with some directors the more you see the more you want to be a completeist for their work. Billy Wilder is one of those.

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post #1515 of 1520 Old 04-06-2015, 12:07 PM
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I wouldn't dare assemble a "must see" list for anyone else, but with some directors the more you see the more you want to be a completeist for their work. Billy Wilder is one of those.

-Bill
Billy Wilder made no "bad" movies, IMHO. Even lesser Wilder films like this one is entertaining enough.
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post #1516 of 1520 Old 04-11-2015, 06:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), directed by Henry King.

After diffident consideration, a Eurasian doctor (Chinese and English parents) falls in love with an American reporter. They get a mild amount of static from both her family and European society in Hong Kong. Even if that were to work out, he's a war correspondent and we expect the story will turn weepy.

Famous at the time, it's pretty mild in retrospect. Jennifer Jones and William Holden are fine actors, but have little chemistry. (She wasn't getting on with anyone behind the scenes).

Adapted from an autobiographical novel. Some Hong Kong locations. Unusually for the time, apart from the Jones the Asian characters are actually played by Asian actors.

Like many early CinemaScope films there are few close-ups; the lenses just weren't ready yet.

Alfred Newman score, incorporating Sammy Fain's title song, still popular for weddings.

Twilight Time Blu-ray with a gang commentary track (not the usual crew) stressing the historical context, score, and technical details of the lighting and camera work.



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post #1517 of 1520 Old 04-14-2015, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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The Palm Beach Story (1942), written and directed by Preston Sturges.

Not until the end is the surprise beginning revealed. A young couple -- Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea -- broke but still living in a plush New York apartment, have an odd marriage. They seem uncommitted but have considerable passion neither wants to admit. Maybe she should take off and find someone else... What?

Enter the Weenie King, long may he endure. A fairy godmother in the form of a deaf, scrawny Texan, who keeps a roll of large bills for just such emergencies.

Then it's off to Florida, sharing a train with the crazy, drunken Ale & Quail Club, sportsmen who shoot skeet indoors. Plenty of comical black porters in this segment, including Fred 'Snowflake' Toones.

Singer Rudy Vallee appears -- and is quite good -- as a diffident and slightly mental Rockefeller type who falls for the runaway wife. Mary Astor is his man-hungry sister.

It's a odd frantic screwball comedy, an unusual combination of the cynical and romantic.

Criterion Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #1518 of 1520 Old 04-14-2015, 02:41 PM
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It's a odd frantic screwball comedy, an unusual combination of the cynical and romantic.
Bill, I'd never seen this movie until I picked up the Criterion BD, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The byplay between Princess Centimillia and Toto was a hoot. Nitz!
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post #1519 of 1520 Old 04-15-2015, 05:59 AM
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Just reserved fr my library. PINK HORSE was interesting!

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post #1520 of 1520 Old 04-22-2015, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), directed by Roger Corman.

It's no picnic for Lady Rowena, being Vincent Price's second wife while the spirit of the first still haunts the castle. And why does he keep vanishing for hours at a time?

The last of Corman's Poe cycle, this is more of a women's gothic thriller, where the new wife has to fight dark forces for the affections of her husband. It reminds me of the Val Lewton pictures of the 1940s, where the awful truth is lurking just out of sight. In this case, that the husband, under hypnotic compulsion is ... attending to ... the corpse of his dead wife in the locked tower room.

Corman felt he had exhausted the Freudian "landscape of the mind" motifs of the earlier films, and for this last entry moves outdoors to real locations, including a great ruined abbey. Shooting in England, as for The Masque of the Red Death (1964). After this he moved into Biker films.

Elizabeth Shepherd does fine work as both Lady Rowena and Ligeia. The dialogue is better, a bit more adult than the earlier films. Credit screenwriter Robert Towne for that.

Her commentary track explains some bits I hadn't noticed before: that the Egyptian mask is also her face, and that Rowena finds Price's coat on Ligeia's bed and throws it at him.

That poor black cat sure earned its kibble for this film. It gets thrown all over the place.

Available on Blu-ray with three commentary tracks:

  • The director, another pleasant if low-density commentary.
  • A lively conversation with Elizabeth Shepherd (Lady Rowena / Ligeia).
  • An informative track by a film scholar.



-Bill
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