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Old 07-06-2016, 03:39 AM - Thread Starter
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The World of Henry Orient (1964), directed by George Roy Hill.

Two girls from private school run wild in Manhattan. Their only questionable fun is becoming infatuated with a no-talent concert pianist (Peter Sellers) and stalking him. It's an innocent hobby on their part but terrifies him. He's trying to make time with a married woman (Paula Prentiss) when these two girls keep popping up.

This much is like a Disney film, and it was originally intended for Patty Duke and Hayley Mills. It becomes more of a Disney-gone-bad story when we learn of troubles with one set of parents, Mom being a real piece of work. Between this and The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Angela Lansbury owned the Evil Mother roles back then.

Instead of known actors for the girls we have two first timers who are wonderfully natural and vivid, going through that in-between age. Young enough to jump over fire hydrants and play games, old enough to scare an adult.

In an unexpectedly moving scene, Mom has been caught in a lie and the daughter knows it. Dad (good guy Tom Bosley) sees it in the daughter's eyes, which is how he learns the truth. She sees that in his eyes and both understand.

I had never heard of this before it appeared on Blu-ray and it was a good find. I can't help comparing it to Heavenly Creatures (1994); similarities, although the later film has sex and murder.

Twilight Time Blu-ray with a commentary track by the usual suspects. Julie Kirgo was about that age, also living in Manhattan, and saw the film when it was new, so this is a nostalgia rush for her. She praises the film for presenting the fantasy life of girls, which she says is all true.

Nick Redman cannot comprehend the fame and regard given to Peter Sellers, who he thinks was the least talented member of The Goon Show trio. He makes an exception for the Kubrick films: Dr Strangelove (1964) and Lolita (1962).



-Bill
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:06 AM
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Yes, this is IMHO a fantastic, fun, and ultimately touching movie. I think I originally picked it up for the Sellers connection, only to find that it's the girls, and not B-list pianist Sellers who are the stars. No matter, as the two unknown actresses are superb, and I can't imagine that bigger names would have added appreciably to the end result. Also fun to see Al Lewis as the frantic shopkeeper who falls prey to one of the girls' practical jokes.

Speaking of Paula Prentiss, Bill, have you ever reviewed Man's Favorite Sport? One of my favorite rom-coms, even though my wife can't stand it.
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Speaking of Paula Prentiss, Bill, have you ever reviewed Man's Favorite Sport? One of my favorite rom-coms, even though my wife can't stand it.
Yes, here: Man's Favorite Sport? (1964). I fall somewhere in-between.

-Bill

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Old 07-07-2016, 11:10 AM
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Don't know if I caught this on the many times it was on TV (KTVU Oakland, CA) in the 70s, but wish I had. Sounds interesting beyond it's years.

Surprise tidbit: Merrie Spaeth went on to much grander things, including working at the White House (well, more than just work), producer for 20/20, etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merrie_Spaeth

Nick Redman can go suck an egg. Sellers was amazing. Maybe not in Casino Royale, but Strangelove? Being There? A Shot In The Dark?

“Hey, Jenny Slater. Hey, Jenny Slater. HEY, Jenny Slater.
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Old 07-10-2016, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Only Angels Have Wings (1939), produced and directed by Howard Hawks.

A South American cargo airline is serious about getting the mail through a dangerous mountain pass. You'd think they were at war. Pilots often crash and die, then their pals drink and sing, divide up their stuff and pretend not to care.

New arrivals: an old enemy, an old girlfriend (Rita Hayworth, age 20) and a stranded singer, Jean Arthur, auditioning for the part of new girlfriend.

From the golden year of 1939, a tough-guy genre film where the women have to be tough to keep up. The sexual banter is concealed in the text, but the characters understand. They fall in love by instinct, without calculation.

You know why condors are endangered? Because those fliers used to drop exploding bottles of nitro on them.

Cary Grant is harder than in other roles, but still dreamy for the ladies. He can be fun, it's just that he has a tough job.

Strong supporting cast, and this time I noticed that even the background characters are real characters. We don't get to know their stories, but we can tell that they have them.

Most of the flying is with small scale models, but we have some breathtaking real footage.

Chesley Bonestell provided some matte paintings; this is his first film credit. Later he was a noted astronomical illustrator for the early Space Age.

Criterion Blu-ray. A Turner Blu-ray was available earlier. Operating just from memory the image quality seemed similar to me. Criterion has subtitles and extras, but I don't think Turner did.

One extra has some valuable points about Howard Hawks:

  • He created fantasy destinations we already seem to know and would like to visit, but will never be able to find.
  • He mixes genres from moment to moment, subverting film conventions while seeming to obey them. Example: Jean Arthur menaces Cary Grant with a gun, a thriller moment. She gives up and drops it, it fires and wounds him, a comic touch.
  • Unusually for that period, Hawks is good at group scenes.
  • Hawks and Hitchcock were perhaps the best directors Cary Grant worked with. Both saw something dark in him.



-Bill
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Old 07-10-2016, 05:16 PM
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LOL, I almost posted a pic from this myself, after buying the CC disc at Costco. The trimotor on fire, but it's so iconic. It looks marvelous for such an old movie. The extras are fascinating, including the ones about the special effects, and the stunt pilot who did the amazing flying off the mesa.

Cary Grant was a superb comedy actor, and there's some great bits from him in this. Watch his quick pose while they're singing at the piano. And his eye work. And his telling whatsisname "oh, go pick up da pilot." And his sobering up to take a flight (he waterboards himself!).

BTW, searching for images, I found an article about a young man who bought an airplane model at a shop, took it to an antiques roadshow, and found out he had an original model from this film. Jackpot.
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Old 07-16-2016, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
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His Girl Friday (1940), produced and directed by Howard Hawks.

Ace reporter Hildy Johnson strives to get away for her marriage and honeymoon, but her crafty publisher (and ex-husband) plots to keep her single and at work on a death row story.

This is a condensed remake of The Front Page (1931) and entirely derivative of it, but adds the genius element of turning it into a screwball comedy with Hildy now a woman.

Great cast, with rascally Cary Grant pulling the same stunts on aw-shucks-nice-guy Ralph Bellamy as he did in The Awful Truth (1937), but it is really a Rosalind Russell showcase. Her frantic entanglement with the telephones (each requiring two hands in the those days), and her quiet, serious time with the condemned man: all very fine. She's tougher than her beau, which is always good for a laugh.

A nice touch: her dawning realization that she is where she belongs, that she doesn't want to leave the newspaper or her ex-husband.

Some bits from the earlier film and play fly by quickly:

  • a reference to the "colored vote".
  • a gay joke: the prissy reporter could be a bridesmaid; "Ouch", he says.
  • new for this film: What does Hildy's fiance look like? "He looks like that fellow in the movies... Ralph Bellamy.
  • ...and: "Listen, the last man that said that to me was Archie Leach just a week before he cut his throat." (that was Cary Grant's given name)

Turning down the role of Hildy: Jean Arthur, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Ginger Rogers, Claudette Colbert and Irene Dunne. I'm not sure why: the play and earlier film were well-regarded and Hawks a successful director.

The film is in the public domain and the poor DVDs could use an upgrade. The whites on my Alpha Video copy are often blown out.



-Bill

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Old 07-17-2016, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
His Girl Friday (1940), produced and directed by Howard Hawks.


The film is in the public domain and the poor DVDs could use an upgrade. The whites on my Alpha Video copy are often blown out.


-Bill
FWIW, for people that want to watch this and have an AppleTV or use Itunes, the version in the apple store doesn't have these issues. Pic 1 is an ITunes screenshot, Pic 2 is my 96" projector screen with an Apple TV playing the movie.
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Old Today, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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The Vikings (1958), directed by Richard Fleischer.

It's hard living just a boat trip away from the Vikings. They murder and pillage with berzerker abandon. Life is particularly cruel for female victims.

At home the Northmen get along pretty well with each other. Most of the camera time is spent in drunken feasting and loud carousing with poor table manners. Despite their depredations our sympathies are supposed to be with them, rather than with the Northumbrian English who bear the brunt of their overseas ravishing.

This is the dynastic tale of a Viking prince and a slave who -- unknown to each other -- are half-brothers, this due to King Ragnar's rape of a Saxon queen. So: Tony Curtis might have a claim to two kingdoms, should he survive. Both he and fierce brother Kirk Douglas are obsessed with the same princess, and both cannot be made happy.

A violent film, with rape and sexual menace, a man's eye ripped out by a hawk, execution by sea crabs, execution by being dropped into a pit of starving wolves, and Tony Curtis having his hand chopped off -- didn't that also happen to him in Taras Bulba (1962)? None of this is very explicit.

It was intended to be especially realistic in clothes, buildings and boats, etc. That was probably more impressive at the time; we've grown accustomed to detailed historical reenactments since. The quick castle siege at the end is pretty impressive and the climatic swordfight on the roof of the castle is a vertiginous panorama which must have been stunning on the big screen. The actors did their own fighting. Me? No way.

Janet Leigh, as always, has a face and figure that might have been lovingly designed by a gifted illustrator. Another of the films -- like Houdini (1953) -- she and Curtis made while married.

Also with Ernest Borgnine, hearty as King Ragnar. He's supposed by Kirk Douglas's father, but is actually a couple of months younger.

Frank Thring made a career playing wicked costume potentates: Ben Hur (1959), El Cid (1961), King of Kings (1961).

Photographed by Jack Cardiff.

Kirk Douglas also produced.

Loosely remade as Erik the Conqueror (1961) by Mario Bava.

Available on a Kino Blu-ray. In a making-of narrated by the director, he says:

  • They spent a year in preparation and eight months in filming. These were difficult location shoots but the cast and crew remained cheerful. They lived on crowded dormitory boats in the Norwegian fjords.
  • They did meticulous historical research and tried to exactly recreate the Viking village, hall, etc. The boats were constructed from blueprints made from recovered wrecks. This turned out to be a problem: people were smaller back then and they had to adjust the seats and oars for the actors.
  • The scene where Kirk Douglas walks on the extended oars out on the water: he insisted on doing it himself, without rehearsal, and did it perfectly. Supposedly this is the first time it was done in 1000 years.
  • Despite the film's reputation for violence, there is only one scene with blood: when the hawk rips out Douglas's eye.



-Bill

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