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Review older films here: 1979 and earlier - Page 29

post #841 of 1255
I found the Region B Blu-ray of A Night To Remember at Amazon.uk last March and have loved it. The transfer was the same as the one used for the Criterion edition but the extras in the British version are somewhat less lavish. The best part of the deal was that the disc only cost $15.80. Anyway, it is a wonderful film, which I regularly rewatch. I'll probably see it again after I finish watching my new BD of Titanic.
post #842 of 1255
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

A Night to Remember (1958), directed by Roy Ward Baker.

My wife and I happened to catch a TCM screening of A Night to Remember a couple of weeks ago. Almost didn't bother since we suspected there was nothing more to squeeze out of this story, having seen other theatrical versions. But we were immediately struck by how much more suspenseful this version was than the others, even Cameron's blockbuster. There was a greater sense of dread over what was to come, a gnawing anxiety over the simplest things like the misplaced early warning communication about ice ahead as in your top right photo above, the Californian crew's exasperating detachment both figuratively and literally, the terrible dilemma facing families who were asked to separate. Maybe the fact that we watched it together was a factor. But we'd watched the other versions together, too.

It seemed to us the real difference was in the performances and the screenwriters' and director's choices in how to convey a sense of control and grace under pressure. You find yourself asking, "Would I do that? Would I behave that way?" These filmmakers simply had a better handle on how to draw an audience in to the smaller stories that will inevitably make us care more about what happens next to everyone. Well done.
post #843 of 1255
Thread Starter 
A Town Like Alice (1956), directed by Jack Lee.

After WW2 a English woman returns to a small village in Malaya to build a well and thank the people there for sheltering her and others during the war. Most of the film is a flashback to the Japanese invasion and the horrific treatment of a group of women prisoners.

Said to be inspired by true events. All these "woman prisoners of the Japanese" stories (I recall the Tenko series and Paradise Road) have common features: the shock of the sudden collapse of British resistance, the contemptuous brutality of the invaders, the heat and deprivation, with the women's clothing becoming ever more stained and ragged, and a long series of deaths.

The distinctive features of this one:

  • The romantic framing story: Jean keeps running into an Australian soldier, also a prisoner.
  • The endless marching. There is no camp for the women so they are permanently on the road.
  • The children are not spared.
  • The prettiest of the women has had enough and volunteers to be a comfort woman. She gets in a car, is driven away and we never see her again.
  • The crucifixion of the Australian boyfriend, nailed to a tree. This is not explicity shown, but the setup is wrenching enough

Of the Japanese: one is exceptionally cruel, one is exceptionally kind, and the others just practical and without sentiment. The Malayans are more warmly portrayed.

Jean Anderson (Miss Horsefall) was also in Tenko 25 years later.


post #844 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Pursued (1947), directed by Raoul Walsh.

I had never seen this before: a tragic romance melodrama in a western setting. Robert Mitchum does not yet have his sinister persona, but even at this stage there is a shadow on his soul.

Since he was a boy Jeb has had fragments of frightful memory and a recurring nightmare. He is hunted all his life, caught up in a blood feud he won't understand until the final moments. It poisons Teresa Wright's love for him.

Some rough parallels to Romeo and Juliet, if they had grown up in the same house: "My only love sprung from my only hate." He kills both Wright's kinsman and her fiance, but they still have their wedding and wedding night, and will reunite at the tomb.

It's pretty strange. Our characters don't behave as we expect. Wright and Judith Anderson turn from love to murderous hate for our hero. He watches and waits, letting the trap be built around him.

Tempestuous Max Steiner score and striking James Wong Howe photography. Filmed in New Mexico (but also with some studio exteriors).

Available on Blu-ray from Olive films, restoration by UCLA. The image quality is generally pretty good without being top-notch. A bit of film damage in spots. Martin Scorcese provides a three-minute appreciation.

Available for rent from ClassicFlix.


post #845 of 1255
The 1974 film "Stardust" with David Essex, Keith Moon and Larry Hagman is available on Crackle. It's shown 4:3 but I'm not sure if it is full frame or not. Maybe someone with the DVD can compare. It doesn't look cropped.

I saw the film when it came out and thought it was a good representation of what happens with music groups when they become popular. I recall one young kid stomping out of the theater with his girlfriend because he didn't like the idea that music was a business.
post #846 of 1255
Thread Starter 
O Lucky Man! (1973), directed by Lindsay Anderson.

Another of the epically bizarre, absurd social satires of the period. From a script by Malcolm McDowell, inspired by his nine hated months as a coffee salesman.

It's not really a sequel to if... (1968), but the main characters have the same name and many of the actors return. It's done as a repertoire ensemble, with the same actors coming around again and again as different characters. We have some visual quotes from A Clockwork Orange (1971).

Episodic and more or less incoherent. It is the odyssey of McDowell, a naive yet ambitious and amoral young man who gets laid a lot. What exactly is being satirized? Unless it is all of England reaching a post-war bottom. We have skits on:
  • corporate training
  • the adventures of a coffee salesman
  • the sex club where the mayor and his cronies take their wives
  • interrogation at an army base
  • country church people (they're very good to him, particularly the vicar's wife)
  • a mad doctor doing human experiments
  • a hippie chick (and the soundtrack band comes into the movie)
  • a ruthless billionaire
  • exploitation of and mass murder in third world countries
  • court and a kinky judge (the UK censors really wanted that cut)
  • prison (again, they are rather good to him)
  • idealistic do-gooders
  • deranged homeless people
  • filmmakers

In the final segment the director appears as himself making this movie and we see McDowell auditioning for something much like if... (1968). When the young man asks for his motivation in smiling, the director bops him on the head with the script. Then we cut to a cast party and dance, complete with balloon drop.

Leisurely paced and three hours is a bit much. We keep cutting to a pop band for musical commentary: Alan Price, formerly of "The Animals".

McDowell and Helen Mirren would reunite (so to speak) in Caligula a few years later. "I think she has forgiven me by now" he says.

Netflix has the 2-disc special edition. McDowell, Price and co-writer David Sherwin provide an edited-together commentary track. They are enthusiastic in their regard and nostalgia for this picture.


post #847 of 1255
I saw "O Lucky Man" when it was in the theaters and recently rented the disc. What stuck out in my mind back then was the "human experiment" that the McDowell character discovers. The commentary on the disc was very interesting because McDowell was thinking about a sales career rather than being an actor. He had some experience to with his dad's pub that helped the role in the film.
post #848 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Detective Story (1951), directed by William Wyler.
I'm going to give you a piece of advice, Karl. When they let you free again, get out of New York. You butcher one more patient and law or no law, I'll find you. I'll put a bullet in the back of your head, and I'll drop your body in the East River. And I'll go home and I'll sleep sweetly.

A fine drama about one evening in the detective squad room, the intersection of all the little stories and tragedies large and small. Obviously adapted from a play but that's OK in this case: it's a confined area and the story moves along like clockwork with no dead air at all. The camera offers many vivid foreground portraits.

Scatterbrained shoplifter Lee Grant is our surrogate: wide-eyed and open-mouthed, boggled by what's happening around her. We wouldn't mind seeing her let off, along with the love-struck embezzler. On the other hand we don't mind seeing wise-ass burglar Joseph Wiseman slapped around.

Most of the cops are calloused but often kind and understanding, but Kirk Douglas is fierce and unforgiving, zealous in his job with a tightly wound intensity that may mask mental illness. He is particularly eager to get a local abortionist; it seems a sore spot with him. When he learns his wife consulted the doctor years before they were married: well, it's not pretty. The total collapse of a marriage.

Eleanor Parker projects the same sort of terrified, stunned shock she showed in Caged (1950).

The production code did not allow abortion as a topic, but it's clearly understood here, despite circumlocutions and references to an illegal "baby farm".

Ed McBain claimed he invented the "squad room as character" ensemble, but this was several years before his 87th Precinct stories.

Edith Head costumes.


post #849 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Rollerball (1975), produced and directed by Norman Jewison.

In the future corporations rule everything. There is peace and prosperity but no freedom. People are diverted with pills, acts of entertaining cruelty and worldwide Rollerball tournaments, a type of violent roller-derby with motorcycles, studded gloves and a steel ball for scoring.

Jonathan (James Caan) is the current champion. The story is his effort to understand why the Executives insist that he retire, and why the rules keep changing to make the game ever more violent.

At over 2 hours it's leisurely paced, although punctuated by plenty of scenes from the game itself, impressively played by the actors and stuntmen. The message is a mild one. I'd class it with other dystopian visions of that era, like Soylent Green and Logan's Run. None are in the same class as THX 1138, A Clockwork Orange or Fahrenheit 451. All these films are about our fears, with maybe a glimpse of our hopes. In this case we worry about the danger of concentrated economic and political power, of violence as entertainment and the loss of individuality.

Some bits rise a bit higher:

  • Only the players think rollerball is a game. The trainers, coaches and all the women understand it is entertainment with political uses.
  • Every now and then we glimpse someone who doesn't enjoy the violence. They have to hide their sentiment.
  • The women seem worse than the men. The actresses are all models because that's what women look like in the future.
  • Jonathan has mixed motives in his quest. He'd also like his wife back; she was taken from him by an Executive and maybe knowledge will give him leverage. The wife is played by Maude Adams, last seen in Octopussy.
  • We have an oddly absurd interlude with the planetary librarian and his unhelpful computer and all the answers it refuses to give. I'm not sure why that's in the film.

Andre Previn score, although mostly he conducts classical excerpts.

I have not seen the unloved remake of 2002.

Flipper DVD with 4:3 letterboxed and 4:3 pan & scan: 2h04m jammed into 3.2GB of video. The PAL imports all appear to be anamorphic.

The director provides an inconsequential commentary track.


Edited by wmcclain - 10/12/12 at 4:45am
post #850 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Dark Star (1974), produced and directed by John Carpenter.

A dispirited crew, all recognizable hairy college dorm-types, fly a failing spacecraft on a many-year mission to blow up unstable planets. They have a pet alien: a beach ball with feet and a wicked sense of humor. Their commander is dead but frozen and in emergencies they can talk to him with a microphone. He sort of answers.

This micro-budget science fiction comedy started as a student film project. I don't know if it's for everyone, but it became a cult favorite with the SF convention crowd. Carpenter also wrote the music and co-wrote the story with Dan O'Bannon, who acted in it, edited it and did the production design.

Some good "quotes" from many earlier SF films: 2001, Dr Strangelove, Star Trek, even Silent Running.

O'Bannon said Alien was Dark Star made scary, and there are similarities:

  • Hunting the alien through the dark compartments (and into the ventilator shafts!)
  • The "Mother" computer voice and her control room.
  • The "knife trick" from Aliens

I love how the slacker crew bursts into efficient switch-flipping during emergencies.

Another aspect, probably funnier now than then: arguing with the bomb, trying to prevent it from going off. Anyone who has struggled with the half-smart features of electronic appliances, especially when they start talking to each other, will know what that's about.

The image is very soft but that's how I remember the film itself.

A final bit of trivia I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere: the film features an instrumental number, "Where Twilight Falls on NGC 891". NGC 891 is known to amateur astronomers as the "Twilight Zone Galaxy" because a b&w image of it appeared in the opening credits of the the 1950s TV show. I've seen the galaxy with my own eyes!


The DVD has a commentary track by a super-fan who has been watching it since he was age 8. He's very serious.


Edited by wmcclain - 11/5/12 at 4:12am
post #851 of 1255
Bomb: Let there be light. biggrin.gif
post #852 of 1255
Thread Starter 
The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), produced and directed by Laurence Olivier.

In 1911 London, the haughty Regent of Carpathia expects the British Foreign Office to pimp him a young woman. Well, that's their job. The American showgirl selected for the task is at first startled by the arrangement, but even drunk she is more than a match for the aristocrat. He's so inept at seduction that she actually starts falling for him and employs reverse seduction of her own. Through one thing and another (royal coronation, grand ball, Balkan political intrigues) she can't get away and wears the same dress three days running.

It's a mildly entertaining romantic comedy, witty in spots and lushly photographed by Jack Cardiff. Its major attractions are two bona-fide superstars in Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and that this was the film they were making in the recent My Week with Marilyn.

The later film emphasizes Monroe's problems, her struggles with the role and the British exasperation with an American star who can't do the job. (They couldn't fire her because she was one of the producers). But you don't see this when watching the original: Monroe is lively, clever, and employs her glamour and comic talents with skill.

It's hard to judge acting when accompanied by blinding star power. I feel the same way about John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

Her fish-out-of-water acting actually helps the American-conquers-Euro-nobility story. Like many Americans she is both impressed by and indifferent to royal grandiosity. She struggles to get the titles correct but finally says "Oh, to hell with it." It's American informality vs British stiffness.

Olivier is smart enough to use this, playing off against his own august demeanor. (Claire Bloom called him "a cold lover"). The later film also recognizes that although Monroe was not a polished actress, the others yearned for her vitality.

The cathedral coronation scene is an odd moment, when the young woman is unexpectedly seduced by the historic grandeur. No one does spiritually fraught monarchy like the Brits.

Terence Rattigan screenplay from one of his plays.


post #853 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Diamonds Are Forever (1971), directed by Guy Hamilton.

James Bond pursues a diamond stockpiling ring from Amsterdam to Las Vegas and discovers archenemy Blofeld collecting them for a death ray satellite.

It's a shockingly weak plot: limp, dull, trivial and incoherent. Said to be a victim of too many last minute rewrites. It picks up a bit in the middle with Las Vegas car chases, but lapses back into tedium. The Odd Couple assassins (Mr Wint and Mr Kidd) are just awful.

I've always liked Jill St John. She has more brains and grit than many Bond Girls. In the first series self-reference I remember, when 007 switches ids with a thug he's just killed, she exclaims: "You've just killed James Bond!".

Bond #7 is Sean Connery's sixth: he skipped On Her Majesty's Secret Service. They pulled him back with vast piles of money and promises to support non-Bond films. He said he enjoyed doing Bond but disliked the time required and excessive hoopla. This was his last until Never Say Never Again twelve years later.

John Barry score.

Available on Blu-ray.


post #854 of 1255
I've always thought this shot ranked up there with Ursula Andress walking out of the water in her bikini and scabbard. wink.gif

- G
post #855 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Tony Rome (1967), directed by Gordon Douglas.

Frank Sinatra is an ex-cop, private eye and general purpose tough guy with a boat and a rusty convertible. Returning a drunk girl to her rich parents he gets wound up in a classic hardboiled tale of untrustworthy clients, shady doctors, drug addicts and murder.

It moves along with all the standard features of the genre: he follows leads and gets beaten up and drugged. He adds a 60s line of snappy patter and a playboy image. Jill St John is a lovely potential romantic interest, but they never quite make it.

Filmed in Miami. The real locations help the story, as does the jazzy score. Daughter Nancy sings the title song.

From from the 10-disc "Frank Sinatra Film Collection."


post #856 of 1255
Thread Starter 
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), directed by Peter R. Hunt.
This never happened to the other fellow.

James Bond courts the troubled daughter of a distinguished crime boss in exchange for leads to Blofeld. The evil mastermind is plotting mass biological terrorism from an Alpine mountaintop.

Bond in Love: this is the most romantic entry in the series and is the first without Sean Connery, who would return later. Bond marries, but, tragically, the Mrs James Bond survival rate is 0%.

It was not much liked when it appeared, but is more appreciated in retrospect.

It's good points:

  • Beautiful photography and excellent action scenes.
  • It is relatively gadget-free and closer to reality than any other entry. Said to be more true to the book than the others.
  • Diana Rigg! Talk about a brainy Bond Girl with grit. He couldn't let her get away.
  • Wonderful John Barry score. I've been humming the theme for years without remembering where it came from.

On the down side:

  • The middle act with Bond-as-genealogist at Blofeld's facility goes on too long. It's comic intent is to establish his sexual stamina. Rigg is missing for a long time here.
  • The conquer-the-world-via-cosmetic-kits gimmick is too much Dr Evil.
  • That Blofeld really cares about getting a noble title: hard to believe.

George Lazenby was a curious choice for the lead: an Australian model without acting experience. For a first-timer he is really very good. He looks like Bond, is masculine and muscular and can do the fighting and action bits.

Further, in keeping with the more realistic tone of this story, he dials back the comic book aspects of the character, making him more human, plausibly charming and even vulnerable, as when his lady love skates up and rescues him at the ice rink.

On the other hand, we expect a lot from our James Bonds. It's not that Lazenby does anything wrong, but he's missing a certain spark, a cleverness that vitalizes the role.

Finally, we learn the heraldic motto of the Bond family: "The World is Not Enough".

Available on Blu-ray with a rather good image.


post #857 of 1255
Thread Starter 
The Man in Grey (1943), directed by Leslie Arliss.

I'm posting this one only because Criterion recently released it with two others as "Three Wicked Melodramas", all from Gainsborough Pictures, specialists in women's romantic bodice-rippers. I reviewed one of the others, The Wicked Lady (1945), as a PAL import a while ago.

This is not as lively or lusty as the other picture, but it represents a large literary genre invisible to everyone apart from the (mostly female) readers who keep their worn paperbacks hidden from public view: the Regency Romance.

Girls school (two to a bed), a mean and resentful student (like Becky Sharp) and her sunny and benevolent friend, a gypsy fortune-teller, midnight elopement with a soldier, husband hunting, a proud and touchy marquis, apprehensions about the wedding night, a black page who never grows up (actually an English boy in black-face), highwaymen, strolling players, dog fights, horse races, treachery and murder.

You can't have fun like that any more, but I'm guessing it's once only, even for Regency fans. Well-known cast.

Criterion Eclipse DVD.


post #858 of 1255
Originally Posted by Mr.G View Post

I've always thought this shot ranked up there with Ursula Andress walking out of the water in her bikini and scabbard. wink.gif

- G

The Essence of a Bond Film. That and Product Placement these days which cover the entire
production costs.
post #859 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Night Tide (1961), directed by Curtis Harrington.

A lonely sailer falls in love with a strange woman working as a carnival mermaid at the pier. Too late, he discovers the police are watching her -- two of her earlier boyfriends drowned. She thinks she is one of the "sea people": a siren who lures sailors to their deaths. Oddly enough, other people believe it, too. He begins having lurid nightmares...

A micro-budget, minimalist production with both pro and amateur cast. It has a bit of the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits ambience of the period, and that dreamy off-kilter mood of Carnival of Souls. More than anything it seems like a return to the Val Lewton thrillers of the 1940s.

Like Psycho it wraps up with a rational (or rationalizing?) explanation.

Dennis Hopper was an unusual choice for the lead (his first). As warm and friendly as he tries to be, there is always a dangerous unreliability to his persona. You expect him to go all pervy and transform into a giggling sadist at any moment.

David Raksin score. Hopper did his own scuba-diving. Roger Corman helped with financing, such as it was, but the independent production had many money problems.

There seem to be several DVD versions. The one I got from Netflix is 4:3 letterboxed but has a late 1990s commentary track by Hopper and the director. Harrington confirms he was thinking of Val Lewton and Cat People.

Also available online for free: Night Tide. I haven't watched that version.


post #860 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Rio Grande (1950), directed by John Ford.

At a southwest outpost where everyone lives under canvas (does the fort even have a name?) the US Army fights an ongoing war with Apache raiders. Unexpectedly, the long-unseen son of the commander arrives as a raw recruit, closely followed by his mother who wants to fetch him back. Relations between mom & dad are strained: during the war he was North and she was South and, under orders, he burned her farm.

The third of Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy". None are exactly sequels, although they use the same actors, the Monument Valley locations, and even recycle character names. I reviewed Fort Apache a while ago; we're still waiting for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon on Blu-ray.

This is lighter than Fort Apache, being an adventure of fighting the hostile Indians and rescuing kidnapped children, and a family story of estranged husband and wife, father and son. It is the first of five pairings of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. She has some good moments: not having seen her husband for 15 years, her expression on encountering his simple army cot is priceless.

We have a couple of instances of the "secret army", irregular operations where men do the right thing outside the boundaries:

  • General Sheridan's illegal orders to cross into Mexico and stay as long as necessary to defeat the hostiles.
  • Trooper Tyree, like Kent in King Lear, banished but still loyal and on the job, the right man for a difficult scouting job.

It's good to see Chill Wills as the doctor, and Victor McLaglen has a patent on the comically bluff Irish sergeant role, but young Ben Johnson is the standout character as Trooper Travis Tyree.

We have abundant balladeering by the Sons of the Pioneers with Ken Curtis. You can hear the folk roots behind the western music.

Available on Blu-ray from Olive Films. The video looks better in motion than in snapshots and often has pretty good detail. Whites are very bright, but the blacks are only occasionally dark. The disc menu has an error: the making-of feature is labeled "High Noon".


post #861 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Day of the Triffids (1962), directed by Steve Sekely.

Earth is hit with a double whammy after a spectacular nighttime meteor shower: just about everyone is permanently blind and (one damned thing after another) giant carnivorous walking plants have appeared.

This was one of my favorite "cozy" SF thrillers as a kid. Cozy in that it was an exciting, thought-provoking survival story with scary moments that weren't more than I could take. I suppose young people feel the same about brain-eating zombies and torture porn these days. It has nothing very fine apart from the scenario.

The first catastrophe is handled as well as the second: world-wide blindness means a global collapse of civilization. We see detailed examples in the crash of a passenger train into the station, an ocean liner drifting at sea, and an airliner running out of fuel and unable to land. Some incidents of survival savagery. It's a pretty dark treatment: we get to know characters who can't be saved.

The triffids take the place of the dead in a zombie apocalypse story: they're like slow zombies, and we have the traditional siege against overwhelming numbers. The effects are pretty minimal puppetry but still creepy: they hump along on thick roots like muscular genitalia and when aroused spew green venom.

It's almost a Quatermass plot, with an unhappy scientist couple at an isolated lighthouse who figure out a defense in the nick of time. American baritone Howard Keel is the brave but wooden main hero.

Favorite bit right at the beginning: a night watchman, hearing noises in the greenhouse, has been all through it and knows nothing is there. When he senses something awful creeping up behind, he is too terrified to turn around.

It's been done a couple of times as TV mini-series since. From a book by John Wyndham, always good at intelligent global catastrophe stories.

I found a used copy of the "Cheezy Flicks" DVD version and this is the first time I have seen the movie in widescreen. It's 4:3 letterboxed and the quality is dismal, too rough to bother with screencaps. All the various DVD versions are said to be bad. We've had rumors of a pristine restored version for years, but it never appears. Probably an urban legend.


post #862 of 1255
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Day of the Triffids (1962), directed by Steve Sekely.

...I found a used copy of the "Cheezy Flicks" DVD version and this is the first time I have seen the movie in widescreen. It's 4:3 letterboxed and the quality is dismal, too rough to bother with screencaps. All the various DVD versions are said to be bad. We've had rumors of a pristine restored version for years, but it never appears. Probably an urban legend.

I finally archived my letterboxed LD of it onto a DVD+R so I could watch it on modern equipment whenever. I don't know how that picture and sound quality would compare with the "Cheezy Flicks" version but, despite its expected pic and sound limitations, it has become kind of a prized possession since no other widescreen version of it exists outside of the "Cheezy" version as far as I know. Like other such flicks from a certain era, someone has really dropped the ball on that "pristine restored version" rumor that I've also been hearing and following for years.
post #863 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post

I finally archived my letterboxed LD of it onto a DVD+R so I could watch it on modern equipment whenever. I don't know how that picture and sound quality would compare with the "Cheezy Flicks" version but, despite its expected pic and sound limitations, it has become kind of a prized possession since no other widescreen version of it exists outside of the "Cheezy" version as far as I know. Like other such flicks from a certain era, someone has really dropped the ball on that "pristine restored version" rumor that I've also been hearing and following for years.

I wonder if these two copies come from the same source? Or if the DVD isn't a copy of the LD?

The OAR is supposed to be 2.35 but CheezyFlicks is narrower, more like 2.20, maybe vertically stretched. Is the LD different?

post #864 of 1255
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

I wonder if these two copies come from the same source? Or if the DVD isn't a copy of the LD?
The OAR is supposed to be 2.35 but CheezyFlicks is narrower, more like 2.20, maybe vertically stretched. Is the LD different?
The LD is in line with the way you'd expect early 1960s 2.35:1 "CinemaScope" to look. Much wider than the Cheezy Flicks version and no squeeze effect on the sides. However, I say that from memory of at least a couple of years since I screened it and never having actually measured it. For the next few months most of my DVDs, including that archived DVD+R, will be in shipping boxes for a major move I'm making so I can't check now but will when I get the chance.

Although I hadn't actually seen the Cheezy Flicks version as of my post about THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS two days ago, believe it or not I happened to stumble on a streamed version of it on a funky Roku channel, Midnight Pulp, just last night! The stream on that channel begins with the Cheezy Flicks logo so I assume that is what their DVD looks like, unless Midnight Pulp has also done some squeezing to make it fill a 1:78.1/1:85.1 ratio. And that stream definitely looks squeezed compared to the LD, particularly on the sides. My memory also tells me my DVD+R copy of the LD looks considerably better than the stream I saw last night despite the fact that it is window-boxed all around and, of course, there is a slight glitch in the flow at the LD side change point. But then, maybe the DVD you've got is also better than that stream.

Edited by hitchfan - 11/28/12 at 8:17pm
post #865 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Pride of the Marines (1945), directed by Delmer Daves.

Before the War, John Garfield is a confirmed bachelor. After a rocky blind date beginning, he and Eleanor Parker are just starting to warm to each other when Pearl Harbor intervenes. He has a tough time at Guadalcanal and is blinded. He doesn't handle it well. Will he allow the love of a good woman to save him?

This is a dramatized bio-pic of Al Schmid, made immediately after the real events. Garfield did extensive prep work and lived with the Schmid family for a while. The wikipedia article has details.

The frame is typical Warner wartime entertainment, where everyone is a cute character and the prospective couple is settled in the end. It gets much heavier in the battle scenes and the fighting is intense and nerve-wracking. The hospital section in the second half has a long period of thick self-pity (Garfield is your man for that) and it becomes a message film for a while. The soldiers are worried that the Depression will return after the war and they'll be living on the street. Some cautions on prejudice against Jews and Mexicans, although nothing for the Japanese yet.

Garfield lives the role, and Eleanor Parker is, as always, one of the loveliest and most endearing actresses of that era.

Warner Archive DVD, available for rent from ClassicFlix.


post #866 of 1255
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Day of the Triffids

I found a used copy of the "Cheezy Flicks" DVD version and this is the first time I have seen the movie in widescreen. It's 4:3 letterboxed and the quality is dismal, too rough to bother with screencaps. All the various DVD versions are said to be bad. We've had rumors of a pristine restored version for years, but it never appears. Probably an urban legend.

Bill, this is a favorite movie of my youngest (grown) daughter who also loves other creature features of the 50's and 60's. A decent version of this film on Blu-ray is long overdue and I discovered a website that shows a release in the USA on 23 April 2010 (TCM Classic Film Festival). I assume since this was viewed at a film festival that a decent copy exists somewhere. The DBCult Film Institute site also lists that the film copyright is owned by Security Pictures Ltd.

post #867 of 1255
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Pride of the Marines (1945), directed by Delmer Daves.

...Garfield lives the role, and Eleanor Parker is, as always, one of the loveliest and most endearing actresses of that era.

Glad you had a chance to catch up with this, imo, "must see" in the Eleanor Parker Retrospective, Bill. As a teen I fell in serious infatuation with her in this one, which I didn't expect after then having only seen her as the Baroness in THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
post #868 of 1255
Thread Starter 
The Dark Mirror (1946), directed by Robert Siodmak.

A minor murder mystery about twin sisters, one sweet and the other a psycho-killer who can feign sweetness. How to discover who is who?

It's thick with the sort of psychiatric plot so popular in the middle of the 20th century; see Spellbound.

Olivia de Havilland gets to play two roles: sisters with distinct personalities who have practiced pretending to be one person. The film uses classic twin effects; some of the rear projection is pretty good.

Dimitri Tiomkin score.

Olive Films Blu-ray. The opening reel looks about like DVD quality but it gets better. Only a few scenes are "good" in terms of image quality.

post #869 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Rashomon (1950), directed by Akira Kurosawa.

The setup is appealing: two ragged men, a priest and a woodcutter, shelter from downpouring rain at a ruined city gate. What just happened? They are shocked by a recent experience and relate the story to a third, cynical listener.

In flashbacks to the events and trial afterwards (the judge never seen or heard) we get accounts from several viewpoints, differing not only in the events but in the character of the people involved.

We begin with the woodcutter, venturing deep into the woods, where all fairy tales go. This is a dark one: the center of the story is a sadistic crime, a woman raped while her husband is forced to watch. He is later killed. Unexpectedly, more than one participant wants to confess to the crime. Not just the wife and bandit, but the dead man himself, testifying via a spirit medium -- a spooky scene.

This is the sort of story, like The Birds or Picnic at Hanging Rock, where we come to understand that the mystery is not going to be solved. We will never know what actually happened, only what people claim. Sometimes they lie, but mostly they believe their own versions. These films approach but do not cross a line which would make them much less enjoyable: they do not become purely experimental or demonstrations of cinematic virtuosity at the expense of story.

The final act breaks out of the constant retelling, back to "now" where the characters have to consider a grim prospect: Is this world Hell? That was perhaps too bleak for the director and he sends us out on a kinder, more optimistic note.

Kurosawa always delivers dramatic cinematography, but this goes into a whole new realm. The light and shadows of the forest scenes are fantastic, and the editing was like nothing seen before, making it a world-famous picture from the beginning. To me it looks less like John Ford this time and more European, maybe like Bergman. They started making pictures about the same time.

I've recommended the director's Something Like an Autobiography before. It ends around the time of this movie and the chapter on Rashomon is included in the booklet for the Criterion Blu-ray. His assistant directors pestered him about the script, claiming they couldn't understand it at all. He finally told them:
Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing. This script portrays such human beings -- the kind who cannot survive without lies to make them feel they are better people than they really are. It even shows this sinful need for flattering falsehood going beyond the grave -- even the character who dies cannot give up his lies when he speaks to the living through a medium.

Egoism is a sin the human being carries within him from birth; it is the most difficult to redeem. This film is like a strange picture scroll that is unrolled and displayed by the ego. You say that you can't understand this script at all, but that is because the human heart itself is impossible to understand.

If I had a film review blog I'd call it "Strange Picture Scroll".

Criterion Blu-ray. The film source seems in better shape than The Seven Samurai. Commentary by Kurosawa scholar Dennis Ritchie.

post #870 of 1255
Thread Starter 
Barry Lyndon (1975), directed by Stanley Kubrick.

I remember when this was in the theater the common judgment was: "Gorgeous looking, every scene a painting. Dull story."

The story isn't dull, but the plot could have been covered without rushing in 90 minutes. What we get with the 3h05m running time is an extended visit to an artistic vision which is a strange combination of the realistic (clothes, settings, period lighting) with the fantasy perspective suggested by such lovely cinematography. It requires a commitment of time but there is always something wonderful to look at.

Thackeray's first book is a satire on this type of story. The joke is always on the puffed up narrator who inadvertently reveals his vulgarity when trying to establish his refinement. The movie is more of a tragic story and shifts most of the humor to a new sardonic narration by the great Michael Hordern.

Note the shifting tone of the different duels:

  • opening scene: death of Barry's father
  • the farce of fighting for his cousin's favors
  • fencing while a card sharp
  • play-fencing with his little boy
  • the slow, gut-churning tension of his duel with Lord Bullingdon

Unfairly, I never gave Ryan O'Neal much regard as an actor: too pretty, Peyton Place soap opera, Love Story, inconsequential romantic comedies. His old-school stoic demeanor is an asset to this role: even shallow rogues like Redmond Barry feel pain, and his suffering at the death of his child is moving, as is his reluctance to shoot the stepson who hates him.

I did not know until recently that O'Neal had a respectable amateur boxing record.

The main musical theme (as I was reminded recently) is Handel's "Sarabande".

Available on Blu-ray. The OAR is 1.66, altered to 1.77 here. Josh Zyber gives the details in his article 'Barry Lyndon' Aspect Ratio Controversy Solved.

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