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Review older films here: 1979 and earlier - Page 25

post #721 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Googling "fort apache" infrared film actually delivers quite a few hits. It seems to be true.

post #722 of 1256
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

I did wonder about that, presuming outdoor effects were done with polarizing or other filters, but the wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrared_photography) did list some infrared camera film used for motion pictures, so I quoted him without comment.

But, you're probably right. We'd need to check a history of Ford or the movie itself.


One of the bonus features on the BD also discusses the use of infrared film.

I'm always amused by the discussion of clouds in Monument Valley. If you're familiar with it you know that days with clouds, (or weather of any kind), are few and far between in that area.
post #723 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Live and Let Die (1973), directed by Guy Hamilton.

Someone is killing agents in America. Bond discovers a link between Mr Big's heroin trade in Harlem and and a Caribbean voodoo island. Some spooky goings on with a fortune teller and the seemingly unkillable prankster-god Baron Samedi.

Roger Moore's first Bond film (#8 in the series) is not good, but still a bit better than I recall. He slips into the role with ease, giving it his own stamp: less physical, more dispassionate, mostly unconcerned with his assignments. As we've come to expect, he rides around in lots of little vehicles and, guns apparently being of no use against him, the bad guys try snakes, alligators and sharks. Sharks again. He'd be dead without that magic magnetic watch with optional power saw.

Since someone keeps taking away his little PPK, he gets a more authoritative revolver and, in a scene worthy of 1930s pulp adventure fiction, the White Hero crashes into the voodoo ceremony, shoots a bunch of attendees and rescues the Lovely White Victim from their unspeakable rites. Then -- you won't believe this -- they penetrate the Evil Overlord's vast underground facility beneath the poppy fields. Where there are more sharks. Dr No would weep with jealousy.

Excitement during an extended speed boat chase grinds to a halt with the appearance of comical Sheriff J.W. Pepper and his stock southern cronies. We have not seen the last of him, alas.

Riding the Blaxploitation wave was an odd choice. At one point Felix Leiter actually yells "Get me the make on a white pimpmobile!" It seems like every black person in Harlem and New Orleans is a Mr Big employee, not to mention the voodoo island. On the one hand, the Bond series must develop: you can't keep making 1962 plots. But jumping on the latest fad (always a sign of studio marketing genius) makes you wonder if they care about the Bond mythology. I actually admire Roger Moore for navigating this material just by staying in character.

Introducing Jane Seymour. Per tradition, Solitaire can do magic only while she remains a virgin, which is obviously a problem with Bond in the neighborhood.

Famous Paul McCartney theme song, also used as effective incidental music. Grammar: who needs it?

Available on Blu-ray. We're back to 1.85 aspect ratio.

post #724 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Caged (1950), directed by John Cromwell.

A terrified young woman enters prison. She was in the car when her husband robbed a gas station. Now he's dead, she's 19 and pregnant, doing 1 to 15 as an accessory.

The warden (Agnes Moorehead) is decent and wants to help, but she barely runs the place. The real boss is the monstrous matron of Corridor B, a huge woman who lives well off the inmates and punishes those who don't cooperate: beatings, solitary, shaved heads.

Marie's only hope is for early parole where she can do any sort of honest work and keep her baby. But this is deep in the "we're screwed" end of film noir and nothing works out. She becomes crazed and then hardened. There's no escape. She can get out if she agrees to do crime, but everyone knows she'll keep coming back until she's a lifer.

It's barely a "message" film; there are some scenes in the office with arguments about conditions, funding, and reform, but they let the story do the work without pushing it too hard. We have more blunt talk than usual about prostitution, VD, and pregnancy.

We have just the slightest hints of lesbian acts. Later entries in the women in prison genre push it harder, going all hot and steamy and sadistic.

Eleanor Parker shows amazing levels of dread and shocked disbelief. I remember her distinctly only as the Baroness in The Sound of Music, but I'll keep a lookout in the future.

Max Steiner score.

post #725 of 1256
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Eleanor Parker shows amazing levels of dread and shocked disbelief. I remember her distinctly only as the Baroness in The Sound of Music, but I'll keep a lookout in the future.


My first introduction to Eleanor Parker was in Pride of the Marines (1945), a terrific movie in its own right where Parker plays the wife of WWII hero Al Schmid, played by John Garfield.


Difficult not to fall in love with Eleanor Parker in that one.
post #726 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Buchanan Rides Alone (1958), directed by Budd Boetticher.

It begins light and comic. Randolph Scott rides into a border town controlled by one powerful family. He doesn't care who he offends. When told that a room, a steak, and a bottle of whiskey are all $10 each, he says "This sure is a $10 town." He exchanges glances with the saloon girl and moves away.

A few minutes later, after a shooting, he's on the straw floor of the jail and shortly after that has a rope around his neck.

It becomes a crime story: the family bickers over a ransom and there is much fighting, escaping, being recaptured, losing guns, getting guns back, etc. When the worst villains kill each other the picture is over.

It obeys the tough guy formula: the stalwart, reliable men recognize each other and become allies. True to the series theme, there is a half-villain who can go either way.

One bit I haven't seen before: the river bank is too wet to dig a grave, so they truss a corpse up in the branches of a tree.


This completes the Boetticher/Scott westerns from the boxed set, all available from Netflix and ClassicFlix.

My favorite is:
  • Seven Men from Now (1956). I've never seen such pain and longing from Scott's impassive, stoic demeanor. Lee Marvin is the semi-villain.

These are very good:

I'd put these on the bottom of the stack:

There is a seventh Boetticher/Scott western that is not considered part of the "Ranown" cycle: Westbound (1958). It is available for rent from ClassicFlix as a Warner Archive DVD-R.

post #727 of 1256
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The Molly Maguires (1970), produced and directed by Martin Ritt.

The Pennsylvania coal fields in 1876. Hard times, hard work, hard men. A secret group of Irish miners fight back against the bosses by blowing up the works, doing assaults and even murder. A police spy infiltrates the organization, a dangerous endeavor, but he'll do anything do be one of "the few who look down, rather than the many who look up."

It's loosely based on true incidents, although historians still argue how active the Molly Maguires were in America, and to what extent they were a proto-labor movement vs a criminal gang.

It's a fine drama, if grim and humorless throughout. Richard Harris is the police agent and Sean Connery head of the secret society. We like him better, but also admire Harris's courage and understand his striving in a cruel world: "You're either pushing up or pushing down." They play off each other very well.

Also of note are Samantha Eggar as a possible love interest (can she love a betrayer?) and the great Frank Finlay as police chief. It's Celt vs Celt, Irish vs Welsh.

Henry Mancini score: Celtic airs, both soulful and tempestuous. (Chesterton: "All their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad"). Cinematography by James Wong Howe.

A box office disaster. This was hard on Connery, who was struggling to escape the James Bond roles. He did some good work during this period, such as in The Hill (1965) and The Offence (1972), both directed by Sidney Lumet. All these films were well-liked by reviewers but drew only small audiences.

post #728 of 1256
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Notorious (1946), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

G-man Cary Grant persuades Ingrid Bergman, daughter of a traitor, to infiltrate a nest of nazis in Rio. She's a drunken tramp and he figures she won't mind doing whatever is necessary to find out what they're up to. But what if she reforms and falls in love with her handler? She: "It's no fun, Dev." He: "You'll get used to it."

This is one of Hitchcock's "women's thrillers". It's all about her pain and sacrifice, her need to be cherished and loved. She prostitutes herself to one man to satisfy another. The moments of extreme tension are also the moments of extreme passion, as when they are caught kissing in the wine cellar. Look into women's erotic literature and you find links between desire and danger which are strange to most men.

Grant is unusually serious here, a cold fish, the spy manager as pimp. He's not supposed to fall in love with his agent, and when he does he doesn't have the moral courage to pull her out. He kids himself that she hasn't changed and likes sleeping with the enemy, cruelly taunting her. He stiffens up and does the right thing in the end; we hope it isn't too late.

(The commentary track says both people are at fault. She can't be honest about her feelings either. I'll check that out next time).

We have a strange sympathy for Claude Rains, nazi stooge. He is honestly in love with this tall woman, breaking away from his jealous domineering mother to be his own man. When he discovers the awful truth he goes crawling back to Mom, a vivid picture of pain and humiliation. She tells him: "We are protected by the enormity of your stupidity, for a time."

The final rescue scene is nicely done, although the last moment where they abandon Rains to the other nazis is abrupt and unsatisfying. It needed another minute or two in the car as they drive away, but maybe they'd said it all in the bedroom just previously.

Written by Ben Hecht. Bergman's clothes by Edith Head. Bergman and Grant are a gorgeous couple.

Available on Blu-ray with two commentary tracks and an isolated score. It's a good upgrade over my old Anchor Bay/Image DVD, but the film source itself is of only fair quality.

One commentary is by the excitable film scholar; he says this is his favorite Hitchcock. The other commentary is a studio history which I skipped.

ClassicFlix has the Blu-ray, Netflix doesn't.

post #729 of 1256
Leopoldine Konstantin as Claude Rains' mother in Notorious was an inspired piece of casting. American audiences hadn't seen much of her prior to Notorious and rarely saw her in anything afterwards. The last time I saw that movie in a theater with an audience, about 10 years ago, the shot (featured in your screen captures) of her sitting up in bed, contemplating the implications of her son's confession and the way she handles lighting her cigarette got a huge, positive, delighted response from the audience. It was done with absolute gun moll thuggery perfection, a chilling contrast to the more dignified matron she'd been portraying up to then and one of Hitch's best and most memorable "Mom" moments ever!
post #730 of 1256
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Chinatown (1974), directed by Roman Polanski.

Private Eye Jake Gittes is hired to spy on a wandering husband. They've both been set up: it's a manufactured scandal against the city Water Commissioner. (Or was it just an attempt to find the hidden daughter?) Jake wants to find out why and who's pulling the strings.

He should have left it alone. He goes farther into corruption and human misery than we could have imagined. In the end there is no justice, no one is saved. He might have known that in advance. The lessons of his earlier life in Chinatown are always with him. "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown" doesn't mean "we don't care". It means "we can't help."

Keeping with the hardboiled formula of Hammet and Chandler, we see everything from Jake's perspective and have to assemble the clues and discover the truth as he does. Jack Nicholson is in every scene. It's both an homage to and an updating of the LA detective films of the 1940s. Now we have color and widescreen aspect ratio, and Nicholson has an unalterably contemporary persona, serving as a bridge between now and then. Our presumptions help us follow the plot: we know that vast graft and corruption must accompany any public works or city expansion.

Jake is a prosperous PI. Marlowe had only one shabby office and no employees, but he didn't take "marital" cases. He was more of a knight errant. Jake has a bit of that. He's no angel, but there are things he won't do, a contrast with both the dead husband (who seemed entirely decent) and the evil billionaire father, satanic in his greed and lusts. (John Huston, director of several of the hardboiled and noir classics).

Faye Dunaway hides and reveals so much at the same time. As Mickey Rourke describes her in Barfly: "She looks like a stressed goddess." Playing against the formula, she is not a femme fatale, just a conflicted woman trying to protect someone else.

The props and costumes are incredibly rich and convincing, miles ahead of the standard period film. Movies of the original time didn't have the budgets to do this level.

Beautiful, seductive Jerry Goldsmith score, written in 10 days. Using horns instead of saxes or violins was just perfect.

Available on Blu-ray. Uncensored, adulatory commentary from big fan David Fincher and writer Robert Towne.

post #731 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Jeremiah Johnson (1972), directed by Sydney Pollack.


"You've come far, Pilgrim."

"Feels like far."

This has always had a post-Vietnam, post-hippy "back to the land" or "back to wilderness" feel to it. Westerns were a good vehicle for that sentiment; you could see it in the clothes and hair styles. A chance for a new beginning away from corrupting civilization. It's part of a formula that our solitary hero inadvertently acquires a son and a wife, but more unusual that he loses them again. I never decided whether he was a veteran or a deserter.

From the very first viewing I have had the eeriest sense that, starting with Johnson's return trip through the burial ground when he senses that his family is in danger, he begins a journey out of this reality and into another world. With his vengeance quest he enters the realm of legend, specifically the legends of the Crow, who are honored to have such a formidable enemy. Displaying the monument the Indians have made for him, the settler says "Some say on account of this you're dead. Others say on account of this you never will be." In the final scene when he meets Paints-His-Shirt-Red: do they find peace in Paradise, or is this a mountain valhalla were they will fight eternally?

I knew a guy back then who worshiped all things Indian and this was his sacred movie. Not just because of the real Indians, but it was a chance to believe that a white guy like himself could live like them.

  • Robert Redford is just too handsome, but that's not his fault. His hair obeys 70s fashion sense, which might also be historical.
  • Delle Bolton ("Swan") was not an Indian. This was her only film role.
  • You see Matt Clark (Qualen, the settler) in a lot of films from that period. I have a shot of him in the review of Pocket Money (1972). He and Allyn Ann McLerie (the Crazy Woman) were both in Monte Walsh (1970).
  • Frozen "Hatchet Jack" (played by Redford's stunt double) shifts a bit between shots. I don't know if he's just breathing or if it is intentional, adding a pleading or yearning expression. Originally they thought to make this a foreshadowing of Johnson's fate, that he would end the same way.
  • The commentary track has much on the difficulty of the production. When filming in snow there is only one take.
  • The director says the message he takes from the film is that no matter how hard you try to drop out, there is no escape from obligations to people and things. He doesn't mind if viewers find different lessons.
  • The fight scenes were inspired by the ritualized violence of Japanese samurai films.
  • The language becomes less formal and stylized toward the end. Contractions appear.
  • Filmed in Utah.
  • The Blu-ray has an overture and an intermission, unusual in a film less than two hours long. These were made for a single 70mm print that saw very few showings. Pollack says he had delusions of grandeur in those days.

Available on Blu-ray with a pseudo-commentary track with Pollack, Redford and writer John Milius. Only the director is watching the film; the others contribute just recorded snippets.

post #732 of 1256
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Nightmare Alley (1947), directed by Edmund Goulding.

Tyrone Power is a selfish and manipulative carny. The carnival where he works is definitely lower end: they have a Geek, a degraded alcoholic who eats live chickens.

Our hero breaks out with a sophisticated mind reading act, then rises high as a society spiritualist. He falls hard, drinks and starts hearing the insane laughter of the Geek.

This was Powers's project; he bought the film rights because he wanted roles other than swashbucklers. It was produced by George Jessel, who I remember only as a talk show clown, but his bio reveals a long and productive career. Rights disputes kept this title off of disc for a long time.

Its dark and sordid reputation is deserved, although there is more soap opera than I expected. It's disappointing that some of the carnies actually believe in the tarot cards. But the cards are always right, and are there hints that our hero actually has psychic powers? He's not a total heel, but shows moments of remorse, kindness and consideration.

Three good female roles: Joan Blondell as the older woman who teaches him the mentalist tricks, young Coleen Gray as his devoted wife and assistant, and Helen Walker as an unscrupulous shrink who is way out of his league.

Also with the omnipresent Mike Mazurki as a strong man. I don't recall seeing Ian Keith before, but he would have made a good Lincoln.

The DVD has an appreciative commentary track by two noir scholars having a real discussion about the film.

post #733 of 1256
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Junior Bonner (1972), directed by Sam Peckinpah.

A low-key modern western, more or less a family drama against a rodeo background.

Steve McQueen is an ex-champion who has just had a bad encounter with Old Sunshine, an unrideable bull. He'd like a rematch. He visits his estranged parents (Ida Lupino and Robert Preston) and battles with his hard-working businessman brother, Joe Don Baker, who has pretty much taken over the family.

Good performances all around. Filmed in Prescott AZ, all real locations and with many locals as extras. It has a promising beginning but slacks off and never recovers. An extended comical bar room brawl doesn't help. But JR gets his rematch with Old Sunshine.

It's a familiar theme: the passing of the Old West with its virtues and standards. Not just the hard men who used to thrive there, but the sense of community where everyone knows the Bonners, the relaxed friendliness and the ease of men and women with each other, a portrait affectionate without being syrupy.

Several other familiar faces, always good to see: Ben Johnson, Dub Taylor, Bill McKinney.

Peckinpah was worried about being typed as an action and violence director and wanted to make something warmer and more gentle. It didn't do well, maybe because of too many similar films at the time. He said: "I made a film where nobody got shot and nobody went to see it."

The DVD is 4:3 letterboxed, a particularly unfortunate encoding for 2.35:1 aspect ratio titles. Four Peckinpah scholars contribute a commentary track. They point out how much the film communicates without dialogue, how skillfully the director tells a story by showing it with his editing.

This is the sort of fine commentary that makes me want to see it again and reevaluate. They praise his honesty and realism, and the look and structure of the film. One is a Brit who saw it as a teenager and says it showed the America he wanted to come and find.

post #734 of 1256
Nice review. A character driven story and as you state very un-Peckinpah. I enjoy watching it every now and then for Steve McQueen but the DVD itself could use an immediate Blu-ray upgrade.
post #735 of 1256
Thread Starter 
The Rules of the Game (1939), directed by Jean Renoir.


Marquis: Put an end to this farce!

Butler: Which one, my lord?

* * *

(A man gets some sleeping pills to sedate his hysterical mistress):

"What's the dose?"


"Give me four."

According to the wikipedia article:


The Rules of the Game is often cited as one of the greatest films in the history of cinema. The decennial poll of international critics by the Sight & Sound magazine ranked it #10 in 1952, moved it up to #3 in 1962, and #2 in 1972, 1982, and 1992; in 2002 it fell back to #3, behind Citizen Kane (1941) and Vertigo (1958).

It's the Citizen Kane of France! (At least I'm there for Vertigo).

I saw this once before and all I remembered was a somewhat bitter semi-comic farce about a weekend shooting party at a rich country estate. That's more commonly an English setting but the French can do it too. The director (who also acts in the film -- he's the man with the hat in the first pane below) said he wanted to make an unserious drama, but everyone since has taken it as political and social satire. It had a disastrously controversial opening and was banned by the government.

The commentary track fills in a lot. I don't follow the language well enough to pick up on who says tu vs vous. I did not know that certain snatches of music are associated with old political factions, and am not familiar with the theater and opera pieces the film plays off. Most importantly, the social divisions of pre-War France seem long ago and far away and I have a hard time recognizing the issues and players. For example: the Marquis is a Jew and his wife is Austrian (as was true of the actors) and this was considered an insult to the upper classes. The opening night audience rioted and nearly burned down the theater.

The commentary presents so many parallels, pairings and love triangles, so many layers of metaphor that I have to wonder if anyone can keep it all in mind while watching the movie. But even if so: is this what makes one of the greatest films in the history of cinema? Like Citizen Kane it is praised for technical innovation and actually has a deeper story.

Criterion Blu-ray. The improvement over their previous DVD is modest, perhaps negligible in many scenes. As stated above, the commentary track is helpful, although like a lot of literary criticism it uses declamation rather than argument or discussion. Maybe there was no time for anything else.

ClassicFlix has the Blu-ray, Netflix doesn't.

post #736 of 1256
Bill, thanks for the review. I don't really give these 'best of' lists much credence since they rarely agree with my list but they are interesting historically. I see that Hulu Plus has this film for viewing (and many other Criterion films) and I may give it a look sometime this week. Cheers.
post #737 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Attack (1956), produced and directed by Robert Aldrich.

A Lieutenant (Jack Palance) has had it with his cowardly but politically connected Captain (Eddie Albert). The guy refuses to provide support when the going gets tough and has gotten too many men killed. As soon as the Lt can get out of his current jam and blow up a few German tanks, he is coming back really pissed and the Capt is a Dead Man Walking.

I saw this as a kid and was shocked by (1) the naked cowardice of the Captain and the political maneuvering his buddy the Colonel (Lee Marvin), and (2) the brutal scene where the Lt is run over by a tank, crushing his arm. And still he comes back! It's almost a horror movie.

Maybe it was the small blurry TVs we had back then, but I remembered his arm being torn off at the shoulder. Now I can see that doesn't happen, although I think it is supposed to be totally crushed: "I didn't know a man could bleed so much."

It was adapted from a play, making it a bit dialogue-heavy. Extreme situations require a intensified performances; when does it become overacting? I can't say. I found myself scrutinizing Palance, but I think he played it as written and directed: as a man suffering beyond human endurance.

Note the future famous faces: Richard Jaeckel, Buddy Ebsen, and briefly, Strother Martin.

The IMDB does not show the original aspect ratio. The DVD is 1.33 but I don't know if that is correct. The framing looks pretty good, though.

post #738 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Frenzy (1972), produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

After a few limp films (Topaz and Torn Curtain; I'll have to see Marnie again before judging) Hitchcock came back with what his new fans wanted. Psycho and his TV show had made him famous as Master of the Macabre to a wider audience and they expected suspense, sex and insanity all wrapped up in wicked humor. He delivered something blunter than his best work, but it was a hit anyway.

Since his previous film the censorship standards had collapsed so now we have more lurid dialogue, nudity and explicit rape and murder scenes. I wonder what he would have done with these elements earlier. How much innate restraint did he have?

We're back to the old double-chase and he's pillaged his own work for many of the elements:
  • The strangled body washing ashore: Young and Innocent.
  • The murderer frantically trying to recover incriminating evidence: Strangers on a Train.
  • The policeman who is convinced the wrong person has been convicted and the prisoner who gets out of jail to find the guilty party: Dial M for Murder.

We're conflicted at the start. Our innocent hero is irritating and unlikeable, while the murderer is pleasant and dapper, at least until we discover early on that he's the psycho. He seems more sinister thereafter. The rape and murder we see is wrenching and when the victim prays during her ordeal it stops being thrilling entertainment. And we never really warm up to the falsely accused man.

We like Babs and it hurts to see her go up those stairs. We wait and listen while the camera backs down the stairs and out into the street. Nothing but city noises. Then her body is cruelly used in a comic scene with a truckload of potatoes. I remember Anna Massey saying she was ready to do her own nude scene but wasn't allowed.

post #739 of 1256
Frenzy wasn't that lurid. If I recall, the camera backed out or was outside of the room when he was strangling the victim. Horror by suggestion rather than depiction. That was Hitchcock's way, as in Psycho, when we knew actually saw a knife stab flesh.
post #740 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Pal Joey (1957), directed by George Sidney.

Like most musicals it's a slight story: wisecracking bad boy singer Frank Sinatra is torn between good girl Kim Novak and not-so-good but rich society widow Rita Hayworth. It features some fine song standards by one of the great voices of the 20th century. The women's singing voices are dubbed. Despite their inherent glamour the women mostly react to Sinatra; the focus is almost always on him.

For some reason I've never warmed up to Sinatra, but at some moments, especially when singing, he has strange depths and undeniable magnetic presence. I recall one quipster saying he played the Pal Joey character for the rest of his life. That can't be right: Sinatra had this tormented tough guy thing going before that, didn't he?

Musical arrangements by Nelson Riddle.

Twilight Time limited edition Blu-ray, mastering by Sony. Isolated score. As far as I can tell the disc accurately presents the large-grained film stock.

post #741 of 1256
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

For some reason I've never warmed up to Sinatra, but at some moments, especially when singing, he has strange depths and undeniable magnetic presence. I recall one quipster saying he played the Pal Joey character for the rest of his life. That can't be right: Sinatra had this tormented tough guy thing going before that, didn't he?


I'm not sure what the quipster meant by Sinatra "playing" the Pal Joey character for the rest of his life, but there were plenty of notable pre- and post-Pal Joey Sinatra roles that were not Joey Evans types, although many of them could accurately be described as you did, the "tormented tough guy thing".

But some form of shorthand description for typical roles could be ascribed to most top film stars. Finding a groove that more naturally fits one's basic look, sound and demeanor kind of goes with the craft of film acting. The "man of a thousand faces" approach you find in a Lon Chaney, Paul Muni, Lawrence Olivier or Marlon Brando was the exception, not the rule. IMO, Sinatra's persona choice would fall squarely among the vast majority of other film stars who specialized in a certain persona even if that persona occasionally donned a different hat or drove a car instead of riding a horse because it was more convincing and accepted by audiences than others.

Stars like Clark Gable, John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Clint Eastwood, etc. all stayed within a certain chosen persona rather than going for the putty nose, cotton cheeks, and hump back/limp type transformations. Maybe that's what the quipster meant..?

I'd say these pre- and post-Pal Joey roles/performances by Frank Sinatra, despite being the same modern mid-20th century urban male type, were not the "ring-a-ding-ding" Joey Evans types at all:

1980 The First Deadly Sin
Edward Delaney

1968 The Detective
Det. Sgt. Joe Leland

1965 Von Ryan's Express
Col. Joseph L. Ryan

1965 None But the Brave
Chief Pharmacist Mate

1962 The Manchurian Candidate
Major Bennett Marco

1958 Some Came Running
Dave Hirsh

(1957 Pal Joey
Joey Evans)

1955 The Man with the Golden Arm
Frankie Machine

1955 Not as a Stranger
Alfred Boone

1954 Young at Heart
Barney Sloan

1954 Suddenly
John Baron

1953 From Here to Eternity
Pvt. Angelo Maggio
post #742 of 1256
Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post

I'm not sure what the quipster meant by Sinatra "playing" the Pal Joey character for the rest of his life, ...

I assumed he meant that Sinatra became Pal Joey in real life. Isn't this ['57] about the time that the "Rat Pack" gets started and the squeaky clean public [note I limited this to public not private] persona gets dropped and Sinatra dons the bad boy persona in public?
post #743 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Mac The Knife View Post

I assumed he meant that Sinatra became Pal Joey in real life. Isn't this ['57] about the time that the "Rat Pack" gets started and the squeaky clean public [note I limited this to public not private] persona gets dropped and Sinatra dons the bad boy persona in public?

Yes, that's how I took it.

I recall a similar story about Lauren Bacall, that Bogart fell in love with her character in To Have and Have Not and she had to stay in character for the rest of his life. (Now I have to see Key Largo again, where they both break their usual characters).

The story is probably just bitchiness, maybe in both cases.

post #744 of 1256
Originally Posted by Mac The Knife View Post

I assumed he meant that Sinatra became Pal Joey in real life. Isn't this ['57] about the time that the "Rat Pack" gets started and the squeaky clean public [note I limited this to public not private] persona gets dropped and Sinatra dons the bad boy persona in public?

Oh, I see. Could be. But in the movies his clean-cut kid Anchors Aweigh thing would certainly be over by the time he nabbed From Here To Eternity, got assassinated pretty good with Suddenly, I'll even include Young At Heart as another nail in its coffin and, wow, The Man With The Golden Arm...But I do see that Pal Joey was the hipster, ring-a-ding-ding persona most associated with the Rat Pack era.

Also, I think whatever squeaky clean public persona he enjoyed during the 1940s had crashed and burned by 1951 when he divorced Nancy, the mother of his three kids, and married Ava Gardner. Which also coincided with or perhaps precipitated his infamous career slide and rejection by audiences pretty much on all fronts, movies, records, personal appearances, you name it.

IMO, Sinatra had one of the most interesting movie careers of all time. Very few actors changed course on their public and private persona so dramatically from the "young man" roles to the "leading man" roles and was as big a box office draw on both sides of that transition as was Sinatra.

And since his first and primary career was in a different category of the lively arts, as a singer, he would generally be one of those movie stars you'd have to make a case for. I mean, it was tempting to write him off as not a "real" movie actor because of that initial huge impression of him as a popular singer, that perhaps his Oscar was more for the comeback than for the actual performance or that he was "carried" through a film acting career only ecause he was a popular singer, and so on. Yet, I firmly believe he was a fine movie actor and, had he first been introduced to audiences on film instead of records, I believe he still would have had a notable acting career.
post #745 of 1256
Thread Starter 
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), directed by Robert Mulligan.

A much loved and honored film, great looking and tremendously well acted, a warm and poignant bit of American history.

I can't say enough about Gregory Peck, one of my favorite actors and near the peak of his powers in the early 60s: his fatherly strength and wisdom, his courageous moral sense. Everyone says the actor and his character were not far apart in this case.

We have three intertwined story threads:

(1) The children's point of view. Kids don't know when they're poor, and these kids don't know any life other than the Great Depression. Whatever adults think of the sad state of the world, to children it's always fresh and new.

(2) Their persistent fascination with the town boogeyman, Boo Radley, who lives just two doors down. Again, to each new generation the world is a mystery, full of puzzles to solve. The adults know all about Arthur and his troubles, but the kids have to figure it out for themselves.

(3) The justice and racism Message, gradually revealed in little scenes the children don't understand. This aspect takes over in the courtroom drama of the second half. The trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman reflects that era's concern with civil rights.

The presentation of a message is a delicate matter in film: too heavy and we feel we are being hectored and the film becomes just a lecture tool. The message is strong here, but I think the film contains and supports it quite well. You can see the machinery, though:
  • Tom Robinson is unambiguously innocent, which everyone knows, prosecutor and jury included.
  • All the villains are white. The black characters are quietly noble and dignified, although only a few have many lines: Calpurnia, Tom, and the Reverend.
  • The decent whites (Atticus, Maudie, the Judge and Sheriff) all seem to be townspeople, while the lynch mob look like poor farmers: urban sophistication vs rural ignorance.
  • The prosecutor just seems to be doing his job until Tom admits he pitied poor Mayella. That's what kills him. The prosecutor is so outraged he can't help but play it up for the jury.

I don't suppose an indictment of women for making false rape accusations was part of the intended Message.

James Anderson, who plays chief villain Bob Ewell, was reputedly a dangerous character off screen. He got the part because he said, with conviction: "I know this man." The producer made him promise to stop drinking, be on time, and not make trouble on the set, and he cooperated. His line "What kind of man are you? You've got children of your own" actually encapsulates quite a bit of the movie.

First film roles for William Windom and Robert Duvall. Peck's nine-minute courtroom summation was done in one take.

Lovely Elmer Bernstein score. Kim Stanley narrates. Filmed entirely at the studio.

Available on Blu-ray with a rather fine image. The commentary track is a discussion between the producer and director as they watch the film. Some silences and they whisper together about points they don't want the audience to hear.

Classicflix has the Blu-ray; Netflix doesn't.

post #746 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), directed by Henry Levin.

A cozy science fiction adventure suitable for children, although they may be impatient with the long deliberate startup: it's 22 minutes before we get to Iceland and not until minute 45 do we enter the volcano and start heading down down down. I think parts were clipped from TV broadcasts when I was young.

This is early "retro" adventure. I approve: period SF should be set in it's original era; at least it's good to see it done that way from time to time.

I say "cozy" because we are comforted by the stolid Scots rationalist geologists, confident and armed with Victorian zeal. The interior of the Earth is surprisingly well lit and the caverns often spacious. Despite that, for contrasting chills, we play up the fear of getting separated and lost and sometimes have intimations of the vast depths and profound mysteries of the inner earth. As always with a Bernard Herrmann score, the tectonic music accentuates the mood.

James Mason is perfect. I don't mind Pat Boone's semi-pro acting but he will persist in breaking into song now and then. Both make only sporadic raids on Scots accents. Not to slight the rest of the cast, but I want to mention brave, clever, doomed Gertrude the Duck. I love the way she flaps her wings to help while they're running from the rolling boulder.

We have two romance plots but they wisely limit the smooching, inserting a honeymoon joke at the end.

The monsters at the core are giant lizards; they actually look pretty good in isolation, but less so when composited with the humans. That volcanic ride up the 4000 mile shaft is tremendous fun. They errupt at Mt Stromboli. A bit of trivia: Tolkien wrote that if you superimpose the maps of Europe and Middle Earth, Mt Doom coincides with Stromboli.

Even as a kid I wondered:
  • Just in case, the Prof carries a special gizmo that determines the direction of a gunshot from it's last echo. (Huh?)
  • Shouldn't they be weightless at the center of the Earth? What's that with the super strong magnetic field that snatches away nonferrous metals?
  • The geological depths seem a bit fragile: taking a crystal sample can start a flood and a tiny gunpowder charge trigger a volcanic eruption.

I read the book long ago and thought it pretty poor, although maybe some intended comedy didn't come through in the translation. For storytelling, give me HG Wells.

Twilight Time limited edition Blu-ray. Isolated score, but no subtitles. The image is a bit variable, soft in spots, but for the most part good given the source. This is the first TT title I've seen mastered by Fox; the others have been done by Sony.

post #747 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post

IMO, Sinatra had one of the most interesting movie careers of all time.

Coincidentally, I found the "Frank Sinatra Film Collection", 10 DVDs for $29.95 at Walmart, $34.42 at Amazon.

The titles are:
  • The Pride and the Passion
  • Kings Go Forth
  • A Hole in the Head
  • Can-Can
  • The Manchurian Candidate
  • Von Ryan's Express
  • Cast a Giant Shadow
  • Tony Rome
  • The Detective
  • Lady in Cement

Only The Manchurian Candidate is available on Blu-ray. I've been wanting to see the two Tony Rome pictures and The Detective again for a while.

post #748 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Rebecca (1940), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

A timid young woman develops a schoolgirl crush on rich widower Maxim de Winter. Against all expectations he marries her and takes her off to Manderley, his vast country estate, where she struggles to fit in and find her place as the new Mrs de Winter. It turns out the place and everyone in it is haunted by the memory of the first wife, Rebecca (our young protagonist has no name). Haunted husband, haunted house. Haunted housekeeper! I won't reveal the amazing plot twist at the three-quarter mark.

Hitchcock's first American movie is much richer and more lavish than anything he'd done before. Although made in America it's still an "English" film. It's another women's thriller, this time a gothic romance, but not really a "Hitchcock" picture, rather more of a Selznick project. You can see Hitch's spin in the romantic comedy of the first act in Monte Carlo, and in the packed last part when the young wife, discovering her husband's guilty secrets, becomes even more passionately devoted to him, sharing in his crimes. The director pulled his usual trick of "editing in the camera", delivering just enough film to make exactly one motion picture.

(He says most of the above in the Truffaut interviews, which is probably where I stole it).

This was Joan Fontaine's (age 23) first starring role. She has a pretty and marvelously expressive face and demeanor; you can see how women would identify with her romantic travails and struggles to make a place for herself in new surroundings. Other actresses were considered for the role, including her big sister, Olivia de Havilland.

Laurence Olivier is fine at the haunted and tormented parts but seems less satisfying as a lover. Too cold. Well, he's still distracted by Rebecca. We like him because he's bored with society and trivial people, but begin to reconsider when we see that he has chosen his new wife because she is the opposite of the first one in every way.

Judith Anderson seems possessed by the scary housekeeper Mrs Danvers. We dislike her from the first moment but not until the story is well advanced do we realize how bat-house crazy she is.

George Sanders was born to play a cad and gets to do it again here, deliciously.

Franz Waxman score. Nominated for a boatload of Oscars and won for Best Picture and B&W Cinematography.

Available on Blu-ray with a lovely image, better than Notorious. Although the grain is easily seen, the fine blacks and grayscale give a velvety texture and pleasant dimensionality. The blacks fail in a couple of scenes and there is a bit of print damage in the last section. Casual commentary track by Richard Schickel.

Classicflix has the Blu-ray, Netflix doesn't.

post #749 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Horror of Dracula (1958), directed by Terence Fisher.

The first Hammer Films Dracula and the first of many starring Christopher Lee.

Compared to both earlier and later versions, the sets are all neat and clean. The Count seems a perfect, if distant, gentleman when in a social mood. In this edition Harker knows all about vampires and arrives with a secret plan to destroy him. That doesn't go so well, but van Helsing is also on the case.

The only part I remember from childhood is how the dapper doctor turns into an action hero in the last scene: jumping up onto a table, pulling down the curtains and improvising a crucifix from candlesticks.

The OAR is 1.66, changed to 1.77 on this disc. Part of a four-film set of Hammer Draculas, each rated lower than the one before it.

post #750 of 1256
Thread Starter 
Desirée (1954), directed by Henry Koster.

Opulent but dull Napoleonic romance. Total fantasy, not meant to be at all realistic. Based on historical characters but much fictionalized. The main character is dizzy and childlike; in reality she was even worse.

I was going to say Marlon Brando is wasted, but that's not quite true, he just makes it look easy. His Bonaparte is quite believable as the charismatic self-centered Great Man of history, the revolutionary who became a monarch, the general who abandoned his armies.

The aspect ratio is 2.55:1.

Twilight Time limited edition Blu-ray with isolated score but no subtitles. The high def image is very good for costumes and fabric textures. Mastered by Fox.


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