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post #1891 of 1904 Old 06-15-2017, 10:59 AM
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post #1892 of 1904 Old 06-18-2017, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Tales of Manhattan (1942), directed by Julien Duvivier.

A quirky anthology film about the odyssey of a cursed dinner jacket. It was cursed by the tailor who made it: he didn't like the lapels.

Intelligent script and lovely photography throughout.

The title is a pun: the tales of a tail-coat. Get it?

The original owner is suave actor Charles Boyer, off to the country to steal Rita Hayworth (hot damn) from drunken, jolly but possibly homicidal husband Thomas Mitchell.

Each of the three characters is just magnetic, but Mitchell deserves more appreciation than he gets. Often comic but with much darker depths at his command.



The coat (now with a little hole in it) passes on to harried butlers Roland Young and Eugene Pallette. It serves as a prop in a bedroom farce between lothario Cesar Romero, his fiance Ginger Rogers and best man Henry Fonda. Ginger becomes eagerly fascinated with Fonda -- playing the same sort of shy, diffident character as from The Lady Eve (1941) -- when she mistakes him for a great lover.



The coat passes on to a second-hand shop where Elsa Lanchester grabs it for (real life) husband Charles Laughton, a poor musician who has a chance to conduct the orchestra. Funny and sad: the coat doesn't fit him very well.



Now with rips and given to charity, the coat finds its way to the poor part of town. Mission workers fix it up for skid-row bum Edward G. Robinson, a former lawyer disgraced by scandal. He needs it to attend a class reunion.

Robinson is -- as always -- superb, and George Sanders provides his patented condescending nastiness as the poor man's nemesis.

James Gleason is great in the unusual role of the warm-hearted Mission chief. Usually he gets the comical fight-manager or bartender parts, but he could do other things.



Finally, the coat is stolen by stick-up men to serve as a disguise for a big heist. Escaping by plane they catch fire and the coat (with money!) is dropped on a shanty town of black sharecroppers. Singers Paul Robeson and Ethel Waters take the loot to their preacher who -- quite sensibly -- figures this is the answer to prayers and distributes it equitably to the whole town.

Eddie Anderson is best known for his gravelly voice and as sidekick "Rochester" to Jack Benny on the radio. I first noticed in Topper Returns (1941) that he had great comic sensibility and was witty in his performances. I love watching him.

Robeson objected to this segment after the film's release, and gave up on Hollywood entirely afterward. The wikipedia quotes him as saying the segment was:

Quote:

... very offensive to my people. It makes the Negro childlike and innocent and is in the old plantation hallelujah shouter tradition... the same old story, the negro singing his way to glory.
You can see his point in the stereotypes used. It is possible to be kindly meant, sentimental and offensively patronizing at the same time. Still, I enjoy the tale: it's funny and heartfelt.



A sixth tale with W.C. Fields, Phil Silvers and Margaret Dumont was not included on my DVD. It was cut from the original release but still exists and is part of broadcast versions.

Sol Kaplan score, lovely inventive cinematography by Joseph Walker.

Available on a barely adequate Fox DVD-R. This is a good restoration candidate.

-Bill
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post #1893 of 1904 Old 06-24-2017, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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The Valley of Gwangi (1969), directed by Jim O'Connolly.

Cowboys and dinosaurs: why not?

Pursuing a supposedly extinct tiny horse specimen, rodeo showmen in Mexico discover a sealed-away valley to the prehistoric. When are folks going to listen to the blind Gypsy woman and learn to leave well enough alone? They won't like Gwangi when he's angry, and he's always angry.

It's for the kids, if they don't mind some bloody creature violence. It is not as much fun as other Ray Harryhausen projects; his dinosaur effects look much like those in One Million Years B.C. (1966). For some reason his stop-motion effects work to give us good fantasy dinosaurs, probably because we don't know what they actually looked like. We're more familiar with humans and other mammals and the effects work less well for those.

This was originally a Willis O'Brien project and the plot is much like King Kong (1933): impresario fetches giant creature for money-making exhibition. It breaks loose causing much mayhem and has to be killed, this time in a burning cathedral, actually pretty horrific.

Just has we don't like seeing Kong in chains, so roping and tying Gwangi just seems wrong.

Richard Carlson's second-to-last picture.

Available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive. Later generations of effects artists give their appreciation of Harryhausen in a short extra. They all thought the seamless integration of real cowboys throwing lassos around the stop-motion Gwangi was particularly impressive.



-Bill

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post #1894 of 1904 Old 06-24-2017, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
The Valley of Gwangi (1969), directed by Jim O'Connolly.



Cowboys and dinosaurs: why not?







-Bill
“Yeeeeee-HA!! Ride 'em, dino!!”

The young lady seems like neckwear even more than Mr. Franciscus. (And Gwangi doesn't like his t'all.)

Growing up in the 70s, I used to have a book on Harryhausen's film work. Every film he had some kind of interesting problem to solve, like time required in animating a 7-headed Hydra, matching skeleton sword play with Kerwin Matthews' live performance, etc. In this, the famous roping scene was a challenge.

I missed meeting him, there was a retrospective of his work at the Rafael theater before I moved east in 2000, 2001, and he was on the sidewalk being chatted up by ... well, several known people from ILM and Lucasfilm. I didn't dare stroll up and stand among so many esteemed wizards.
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post #1895 of 1904 Old 06-24-2017, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I missed meeting him, there was a retrospective of his work at the Rafael theater before I moved east in 2000, 2001, and he was on the sidewalk being chatted up by ... well, several known people from ILM and Lucasfilm. I didn't dare stroll up and stand among so many esteemed wizards.
In the extras I've seen, modern effects artists are honest about their envy of Harryhausen: he got to run his own shop and do everything himself. You can't do that anymore.

-Bill

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post #1896 of 1904 Old Yesterday, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Holiday (1938), directed by George Cukor.

Somehow, free spirit Cary Grant falls in love with wealthy Doris Nolan. We soon see he is not going to fit in to her aristocratic class. He does strike sparks with the unconventional troublemaking sister, Katharine Hepburn.

An odd little comedy-drama with the first hints of countercultural resistance to having a job and making lots of money. Although: our hero makes some unspecified business killing so he can do his own thing after. The best of both worlds?

The cast:

  • Cary Grant demonstrates several back flips.
  • I've never seen Katharine Hepburn looking so tall and thin as here, and that's saying something.
  • Lew Ayres is both funny and sad as the always drunken, unhappy brother.
  • Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon are a hoot as the eccentric professors. I last saw her as Molly the wisecracking maid in My Man Godfrey (1936). This was her last feature film role; she lived another 43 years.

Adapted from a stage play and filmed previously in 1930. Horton played the same role in both film versions.

Available on DVD.



-Bill

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post #1897 of 1904 Old Yesterday, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Keeper of the Flame (1942), directed by George Cukor.

A nation mourns the death of a hero but when a reporter wants to write about him he encounters resistance and mystery. All is not what it appears to be. Finally in the last few minutes the truth is revealed and we get a lecture on the danger of American fascism.

It's a good-looking film and benefits from the star combination of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. It has an ominous, brooding tone, enlivened by a few sparks of wit between Tracy and a reporter gal-pal. The long middle portion drifts a bit.

A theory: this was intended as a slam again Charles Lindbergh, a hero of titanic stature accused of pro-nazi sympathies.

Darryl Hickman, age 11, was last seen in Leave Her to Heaven (1945) when Gene Tierney watches him drown.



-Bill

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post #1898 of 1904 Old Yesterday, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Born Yesterday (1950), directed by George Cukor.

A crude, blustering Boss Man arrives in Washington for heavy lobbying. Judging his girlfriend lacks sufficient couth for such refined surroundings, he hires an intellectual to improve her manners and knowledge. That's a mistake.

I was constantly distracted while watching this, wondering "Why does this look so different than movies made just a few years earlier?" I never figured it out. Was it the quiet pacing, contrasted with the earlier frenetic screwball formula? A more modern look -- in what way? -- perhaps less stagey than the 1940s. Maybe the character of Broderick Crawford, which could just as easily have fit in a crime or corruption drama?

Low intensity comedy, with good use of DC locations and a dose of patriotic idealism.

Twilight Time Blu-ray.



-Bill

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post #1899 of 1904 Old Yesterday, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
Born Yesterday (1950), directed by George Cukor.

A crude, blustering Boss Man arrives in Washington for heavy lobbying. Judging his girlfriend lacks sufficient couth for such refined surroundings, he hires an intellectual to improve her manners and knowledge. That's a mistake.

I was constantly distracted while watching this, wondering "Why does this look so different than movies made just a few years earlier?" I never figured it out. Was it the quiet pacing, contrasted with the earlier frenetic screwball formula? A more modern look -- in what way? -- perhaps less stagey than the 1940s. Maybe the character of Broderick Crawford, which could just as easily have fit in a crime or corruption drama?

Low intensity comedy, with good use of DC locations and a dose of patriotic idealism.

-Bill
What, no love for Judy Holiday? Best actress Oscar and Golden Globe for this role. This was a stunningly good performance that put her on the map. Famously quoted as saying that one has to be pretty smart to play dumb. I see nothing in her performances to contradict that. Later married to Jerry Mulligan and did some singing.
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post #1900 of 1904 Old Yesterday, 01:08 PM
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Holiday (1938), directed by George Cukor.
Heh, saw this for the first time only a couple of weeks back, as wifey's on a Cary binge and I had run out of ammo. We found it pleasant enough, but no great shakes.

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Born Yesterday (1950), directed by George Cukor.
Now this, on the other hand, is one of my very favorite comedies. A fine cast, a fun plot, and Holliday's performance is absolutely terrific. It's no surprise she won the award. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Costume Design.
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post #1901 of 1904 Old Yesterday, 02:06 PM
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Bill -- Your review of Holiday (1938) reminded me of Katharine Hepburn's years in the career wilderness when she had the reputation of being "Box office poison." After Holiday Hepburn turned her career around by buying out her contract with RKO and then buying the rights to The Philadelphia Story, which she then sold on condition that she could star in the film. The film, of course, was a hit. After that came her long and magical partnership, both on and off screen, with Spencer Tracy.
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post #1902 of 1904 Old Yesterday, 03:28 PM
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Since its a George Cukor festival, and we know he favored Hepburn:
Hepburn fans should already have this, but if you don't, you want it.
Love Among the Ruins
A project conceived for the purpose of putting Olivier and Hepburn together. Pretty sure it was a Hallmark TV movie, very hard to get.
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post #1903 of 1904 Old Today, 07:45 AM
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Review older films here: 1979 and earlier

I've been biding my time before buying the TT BD of Born Yesterday (missed out last year or was it 2015?). I should get off my duff and buy it before the limited ed. series runs out. It looks great from your shots.

Never seen Keeper of the Flame, and it's not on my Tracy/Hepburn boxed set. Clearly an overlooked film from the war (like, whatsitcalled, Top Secret with Tracy, Hepburn, and Lucille Ball).

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post #1904 of 1904 Old Today, 10:54 AM
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I could sit and watch Judy Holiday shuffle her cards for hours.
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