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post #391 of 2257 Old 11-22-2010, 05:21 PM
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I think much of the success of The Sound of Music was the way it won over its audience, many of whom went into it expecting "syrup and silliness", as you say. All those "happy" poster images of sweetness and light, the awareness that we're going to have to listen to kids sing "Do-re-mi" and all had people like me bracing for the worst as I was dragged into the theater to see it in 1965.

But the great surprise, imo, is how NON-"syrupy and silly" it is in the actual viewing of it. There is such a sharp, professional, knowing effort by everyone involved to avoid an overly cute presentation while still delivering laughs, charm, romance, lots of fine music and a little suspense that it totally wins you over.

Credit for this naturally goes to the shrewdness of screen-writer Ernest Lehman, the entire cast, particularly Andrews, and, most especially, director Robert Wise. His understanding of how to put a movie together goes all the way back to his editing job on Citizen Kane.

In fact, there is in The Sound of Music an homage of sorts to one of his, Kane director Orson Welles' and composer Bernard Herrmanns' signature sequences in Citizen Kane, although few might realize it.

In Citizen Kane there is a justifiably famous montage sequence that illustrates the passage of time and the evolution of the relationship between Charles Foster Kane and his wife from its honeymoon romance stage to a middle age stoic tolerance that is a brilliant whirlwind combination of direction, music and Wise's editing.

So too in The Sound of Music, during the "Do-re-mi" montage (late edit: along with the "My Favorite Things" bridge preceding it), Wise illustrates the evolution of the relationship between Andrews and the children during the Summer their dad is off visiting his fiance through another whirlwind montage of direction, music (of course) and editing.

Now, how many movie musicals can you say inherited the pedigree of arguably the greatest movie of all time in the personage of its editor and, in at least one sequence, in its technique?
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post #392 of 2257 Old 11-23-2010, 05:37 AM - Thread Starter
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The Stalking Moon (1968), directed by Robert Mulligan.

A modest scale but seriously toned western thriller that reminds me of two other movies.

The setup is "what if The Searchers had not had Ethan Edwards?" In his last days before leaving the army, scout Gregory Peck helps round up some loose Apaches and discovers Eva Marie Saint, a white woman captured in a massacre years earlier. She now has a young son. She has lost much of her English and has learned to be stoic and unemotional. Saint is properly worn and unglamorous in the role.

What she does not tell him at first is that the father of her son is a notorious Apache desperado, an implacable persecutor menace. She wants to get the boy out of the area quickly.

After much reluctance, Peck takes the woman and child to his retirement ranch in another state. Almost against his will he starts to construct a family, and the plot now suggests his own Cape Fear, because the father is coming and it is not clear if they will be able to stop him. It becomes a tense siege story.

Westerns became harder during the 1960s, but we still have the elements of traditional nobility here: a mother's love and a man's responsibility to protect the women and children. We never get to know the boy's father, but an unstated aspect of the plot might be: is he wrong? Apart from killing everyone who gets in his way.



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post #393 of 2257 Old 11-23-2010, 05:54 AM
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The Stalking Moon (1968), directed by Robert Mulligan.

This one is part of 2 different western box sets and also was released on it's own on DVD. Any opinion on which is the best release?
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post #394 of 2257 Old 11-23-2010, 06:20 AM - Thread Starter
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This one is part of 2 different western box sets and also was released on it's own on DVD. Any opinion on which is the best release?

I don't know the differences. My rental was from one of the last mom & pop video stores in America and had this cover:



Amazon says this is Warner Home Video. The disc was anamorphic with subtitles but no other features.

DVDBeaver has a review from one of the box sets: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDRe...lking_moon.htm, "a demonically effective palm-sweater".

DVDCompare has just one R1 edition: http://www.dvdcompare.net/comparison....php?fid=14457

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post #395 of 2257 Old 11-23-2010, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

I don't know the differences. My rental was from one of the last mom & pop video stores in America and had this cover:



Amazon says this is Warner Home Video. The disc was anamorphic with subtitles but no other features.

One of the western box sets is also Warner, so they must be the same. I've watched a Netflix discs and the have the same artwork and specs.
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post #396 of 2257 Old 11-24-2010, 08:26 AM
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post #397 of 2257 Old 11-24-2010, 09:05 AM - Thread Starter
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How are we going to catch up with Movie with the HOTTEST girl you've ever seen ?

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post #398 of 2257 Old 11-24-2010, 09:27 AM
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How are we going to catch up with Movie with the HOTTEST girl you've ever seen ?

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post #399 of 2257 Old 11-24-2010, 11:19 AM
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How are we going to catch up with Movie with the HOTTEST girl you've ever seen ?

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Start a new thread: "Pre-1979 movies with the hottest girl you've ever seen". That actually might be fun. I'll start with Carol Lombard and Ginger Rogers. I can think of a number of pre-1939 films that could produce screen shots which wouldn't be allowed on AVS.
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post #400 of 2257 Old 11-27-2010, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Mad About Music (1938) directed by Norman Taurog.

At a girls school in Switzerland, neglected and fatherless Deanna Durbin invents a heroic explorer dad for the edification of her friends. Distinguished, affable Herbert Marshall arrives in the nick of time to play the part.

This is the one with the girl's singing and whistling bicycle team. Also a harmonica band and a certain amount of yodeling. Durbin sings "Ave Maria".

It's a pretty average script, elevated by Marshall's dry wit and Durbin's undeniable talent and charm. She's playing 14, but is actually 16 (with top billing!) and seems older. Arthur Treacher is a ranting valet.

Now that I know about Marshall's wooden leg (a WW1 injury) I'm always watching for it. He moves a bit stiffly sometimes.

The soprano voice fell out of favor in pop music, sounding too operatic for the modern ear. Was Durbin part of the last hurrah?

TCM Vault series, available for rent from http://www.classicflix.com/.



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post #401 of 2257 Old 11-29-2010, 06:02 AM - Thread Starter
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3:10 to Yuma (1957), directed by Delmer Daves.

A tense, "psychological" western about rancher Van Heflin escorting bad man Glenn Ford to the train. Motives and characterizations are all mixed up: the good man says he is only in it for the money, but obviously also wants some respect from his family. The outlaw is as reasonable as he can be given his work, and has more charm and romance than any of the good folk.

We have more sexual allusion than is common for westerns of the time. Ford dallies with the bar maid (and gets caught because of it) and refers to Helfin's marriage in inappropriate ways. While waiting for the train the two men camp out in the hotel Bridal Suite and Ford tries to "seduce" him with money (for freedom, not sex).

Who would have thought the West was settled by such timid townsfolk? The only stalwart helper is the town drunk (Henry Jones, often seen, but who I always remember as the nasty coroner in Vertigo). But look what happens to him; maybe timidity would have been the better course.

Another famous face from that era: Robert Emhardt, forever the Unpleasant Fat Man. I don't think he ever had a sympathetic role.

Fine b&w photography. Rather good, lyrical score by George Duning, with the theme sung by Frankie Laine.

Remade in 2007.



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post #402 of 2257 Old 12-01-2010, 05:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Psycho (1960), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

What I think of as Act 1 is a perfect motion picture. Janet Leigh dominates the screen and is a pleasure to watch: eyes sketched by a glamour illustrator, face and figure and intelligent demeanor. Hitchcock pulls his usual trick of making us slightly guilty by identifying with a criminal. Although she does it for love and steals from an unlikeable lecher, she's still a thief.

Her clumsy flight is set to panic-inducing music by Bernard Herrmann. Of all the obscure roadside motels in the southwest she has to end up at the Bates.

I noticed much role switching in this segment. At the outset she and the boyfriend are at an impasse, but at least are on the same level. Back at the office she has to put up with the irritating client. Then she's rich and on top, then a fugitive being persecuted. When she meets Norman she has the upper hand: she's been in the world and is sexually experienced; he obviously has not and is not. At first she is indulgent towards his boyish awkwardness, but during their remarkable conversation she sees he has depth and an amount of wisdom. From his example she decides to turn her life around, go back and face the music.

But the role switching proceeds to nightmarish excess: Norman knows things beyond her imaginings.

Having lost our first protagonist we are distressed to find ourselves switching to her murderer. (Well, the man who conceals her murder...) Does he miss any clues, will he get away with it?

Act 2 involves the search for Marion Crane and is less satisfying, although it is hard to see how it could be otherwise, given the climax in the middle of the movie. People have to recover while wondering "what next?" We really are in unexplored territory. But none of the sister, boyfriend or detective appeal to us the way both Marion and Norman do.

I have noticed that many Hitchcock films tend to flag around the 2/3 mark before coming back for a big finish. Here it happens during the late night visit to the deputy sheriff.

The Epilogue is the psychiatric summary, an unnecessary wrap-up.

The director uses some of his standard motifs: a guilty identification with the guilty, fear of the police, voyeurism, and the misleading prop, a packet of money in this case. We do not have the double chase (cops chase innocent man who chases the real killer) and most importantly, he breaks his rule about the difference between suspense and shock. He does not share with us the truth about Norman until the end.

Available on a very nice Blu-ray. I hadn't noticed before how artificial the dialog track sounds. The new DTS HD audio accentuates this and I prefer the old mono track (DTS stereo on the disc).

My thumbnails are from the old 4:3 letterboxed DVD. The Blu-ray is a huge upgrade.



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post #403 of 2257 Old 12-01-2010, 11:25 AM
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Great insight on the role-switching elements of Psycho. That recurring motif also suggests an off-kilter psyche, an uncertainty about one's identity, a swallowing up/take over by more dominant personalities around us. Or those we perceived as such. Very "parental" in nature. The over-bearing, leering, sexual overtones of the older man in the real estate office leaning over Marion and talking about "buying off" his "sweet self" daughter's unhappiness with his money is a particularly creepy foreshadowing of what we'll learn about Norman's younger days.

Mentally, Marion shows deeper signs of susceptability to this role-switching weakness on the drive out of town. She begins to hear the voices of her boss, boyfriend, sister, the wicked older man, filling in for what they'd probably say when they know the truth about her. This, of course, is what Norman has been doing to a more nightmarish degree for years.

What I suppose can never be fully appreciated in subsequent viewings of Psycho outside of its 1960 context is how much it coming from that particular director, Alfred Hitchcock, at that particular time changed the way films, if not our entire culture, thought about crime, punishment and the potential dangers of life in the real world.

Most audiences, generally without analyzing it, came to expect the annual major studio Hitchcock movie release to provide a certain comforting symmetry. The "punishment" tended to fit the "crime". Guy might have had a murderous wish for his wife to be gone, but since it was only a wish and he wasn't the one with his hands around her neck, he lived to learn a lesson in too much wishful thinking and went on with his life (Strangers on a Train). Roger O. Thornhill was a Madison Avenue slickster who conned a man out of a taxi and moments later was himself hustled into a car without a way out (North by Northwest). There was a beautiful, ironic symmetry to it all.

However, what happened to Marion Crane was wildly over-the-top disproportionate to her "crime". We might have expected as much from an up and coming, low-budget horror maverick filmmaker. But coming as it did from one of the most precise and purposeful filmmakers ever to master the form within the studio system, it shattered our comfort zone. From the moment that shower curtain was pulled away, all of our expectations about Hollywood providing a safe, ordered, thematically just view of the world was over. And that "awakening" effected our view of the world in general, I think.

Hitchcock knew exactly what he was doing and what it would mean to his audience. A true genius of the art and craft of making movies.
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post #404 of 2257 Old 12-03-2010, 04:55 AM - Thread Starter
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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), directed by John Huston.

In memory this is an unromantic, unheroic adventure story. Which would make it part of a small genre ... maybe add The Wages of Fear. On another viewing it is not quite so heavy and there is more humor, sentiment and action/adventure than I remember. It suggests Huston's own The Man Who Would be King (reviewed above): men seeking their fortune beyond the horizon and not enjoying their success. When most adventures are fantasies, there is something especially gripping about a serious tale of gold fever and madness that goes for gritty realism.

Great credit is due to Bogart. A lot of actors will be the villain if he is the sort you love to hate or is charming or some sort of satanic majesty. Bogart's Dobbs is homely and unlikeable throughout. And he's not even a villain in the sense of "the better the villain the better the movie"; he's just a small-minded guy caught up in passions he can't control.

Walter Huston is the old timer gold-mining addict. He's seen it all before, knows what greed and paranoia will do to his partners, is undeceived as to the consequences, but just can't stay away. He has a great line -- asked what he would do with his share: "Settle down, buy a store and read comic strips and adventure stories." That and "If I were you boys, I wouldn't talk or even think about women. T'aint good for your health."

Tim Holt was not as well known as the other two actors and plays the ordinary guy, a proxy for the viewer.

It's a tough guy film with little multi-cultural sensitivity: dirty Mexican bandits and simple primitive Indians.

Max Steiner score.

Available on Blu-ray.



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post #405 of 2257 Old 12-06-2010, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Zulu (1964), directed by Cy Endfield.

The 1879 Battle of Rorke's Drift, the desperate defense of a mission station by a terrifically outnumbered British Army unit during the Anglo-Zulu War.

The first hour is a slow buildup as we meet the characters, including the typically colorful privates. Impressive, very moving singing, dancing and battle formations by the thousands (?) of Zulu extras. The long battle segment itself is exciting and meant to be realistic, although the ample shooting, hacking and slashing produces almost no blood. It's not at all clear how this siege story is going to end: Alamo or Seven Samurai?

Stanley Baker is the bridge-building engineer who takes command. Jack Hawkins is the stock cowardly, alcoholic and raving Christian minister. In his first prominent film role, Michael Caine plays a posh but ultimately sturdy officer. His face is featured on later cover art.

John Barry score.

The Zulu extras treated this as an historical reenactment and brought all their own gear from home. In his entertaining autobiography, What's It All About?, Michael Caine writes:

Quote:



The man who played the chief of the Zulus in the film is the real-life chief today, Chief Buthelezi, the present day leader of the Incatha movement. A woman who I think was his sister -- a princess of the tribe anyway -- was the tribal historian. The Zulus have no written history; everything is passed down verbally and this woman seemed to know every detail of the battle that we were filming. Cy said that she drew in the sand with a stick the movement of the Zulu armies and their battle formations in such detail that he used them in the film, exactly as she said, to great effect. They are some of the best battle scenes I have ever seen in a film.

He also points out that "modesty is a matter of geography" and describes the challenge of filming a traditional tribal dance. To prevent censor meltdown, the country girls had to be persuaded to wear little black panties under their bead skirts. Conversely, the city girls had to be coaxed into removing their tops.

The wikipedia article has a list of historical inaccuracies, many of which seem pretty minor, as well as influences on other films such as Gladiator and The Two Towers.

George Macdonald Fraser, in The Hollywood History of the World: "...in its way the best African historical, and one of the best in the imperial canon... meticulous recreation... Nigel Greene outstanding as the Colour-Sergeant; he was the old British army..."

My "West Lake" DVD from Netflix was 4:3 letterboxed and they shoved 2h17m of video into 3GB of space. A good test of player zoom and deinterlacing. It ranges from "not bad" to "kind of poor". I see there is a region 1 anamorphic edition also, probably much better.

And now, too late, I see it is available on Blu-ray.



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post #406 of 2257 Old 12-06-2010, 09:08 AM
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^^^
Just checked, Zulu BD was released only in the UK, all-region BD.
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post #407 of 2257 Old 12-06-2010, 09:13 AM
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And the BD is a poster child for DNR which it too bad since it's such a great movie, but I can't bring myself to buy it.

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post #408 of 2257 Old 12-09-2010, 09:15 AM - Thread Starter
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The Maltese Falcon (1941), directed by John Huston.

"You know... falcon."

A circle of thieves, swindlers and killers, hunting for a legendary treasure, meet their match in a San Francisco private eye.

The fictional hard-boiled private detective lives in the shadow world between law and crime; he can't go too far to the dark side or he'll be in jail or dead or simply out of work. Sam Spade is comfortable with the criminals and often seems as amoral as they, but in the end he ties up all the loose ends and is square with the law again. Did he really fall for Brigid? Not hard enough, it would seem.

The score is pretty whimsical for a tough-guy crime film, clueing us that it's all in fun. Often called film-noir, which seems a huge stretch, although I don't care that much about definitions and categories. The music becomes more dramatic in the final part, after Spade is drugged and kicked in the head.

Folklore has it that Hammet slipped "gunsel" past his editor, who thought it meant "gunman" rather than "catamite". It's clear, even in a Code-compliant film, that Wilmer, Gutman and Cairo are all sweet on each other.

"The stuff that dreams are made of." It's been a long time since I read the book; was "stuff" the word he used?

"When you're slapped you'll take it and like it!"

John Huston's and Sydney Greenstreet's first film.

The great dilemma is always Dashiell Hammett / Sam Spade / The Maltese Falcon vs Raymond Chandler / Philip Marlowe / The Big Sleep. Bogart is a connecting link in the films. I side with Chandler, but that's for another day. Even he said Hammet was "the best".

Available on Blu-ray (no BD-J). The grayscale is a good improvement over the DVD. The detail is also better, but not as dramatic an improvement as with other recent b&w classics.

"You're a good man, sister."



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post #409 of 2257 Old 12-11-2010, 05:24 AM - Thread Starter
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The Big Heat (1953), directed by Fritz Lang.

Detective Glenn Ford is an honest cop in a corrupt department in a city run by a suave, rich gangster. He won't stop pushing, and when his wife is killed by a car bomb, he gets really mad.

This is the one where Lee Marvin throws a pot of boiling coffee in Gloria Grahame's face. Turnabout is fair play -- she later does the same to him.

In his grief, Ford becomes bitterly self-righteous, believing he is the only honest man, the only one with any courage, "me against the world". In a good twist he learns that's not so. Some other cops help him, and his brother-in-law has army buddies who are not afraid of the gangsters.

It has good features and a good cast, but it's a bit light on plot and I didn't find the whole project that gripping. For a seriously toned, realistic crime thriller, too much time is spent in static interiors. The camera work seems to be intentionally low-drama, moving mostly to frame the actors. When it does move it makes fluid, interesting motions in three dimensions.

I've always liked Gloria Grahame and she has more to do here than usual, but her habit of stuffing cotton under her upper lip makes her look strange and doesn't help her enunciation.

Jocelyn Brando, playing the detective's wife, is a remarkable match for later actress Anne Archer.

The DVD has appreciations by Michael Mann (10 minutes) and Martin Scorsese (5 minutes). One of them points out that the film has four strong women, all of whom are dead at the end. Protagonist Glenn Ford is the connecting thread.



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post #410 of 2257 Old 12-14-2010, 04:07 AM - Thread Starter
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The Man Who Would Be King (1975), directed by John Huston.

"Bags of swank!"

This thread has existed for just over a year and here is my first repeated movie. I read passages from Michael Caine's autobiography to my wife and she wanted to see The Man Who Would Be King again. My original review is here.

Ex-soldiers Daniel and Peachy are no ordinary looters. India is too small for them and "We are not little men." They want to be royal thieves. Money is important but so is their pride. Hubris trips them up: loot is one thing (sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don't) but wealth that will make them the richest men in England, even the world -- you can't get away with that.

They tempt the gods further by setting up Daniel as a god, and he begins to believe his own line. Tragically, he does try to be a good king, but his pride is still in the way. And something more glandular than pride: he wants to form a royal line. Does he pick a stout earth-mother figured woman for his queen? No, he sends for Roxanne, slim and beautiful as a fashion model.

The story turns spookily Arthurian, where "the king and the land are one". The gods are angry and punish the country. The king is sacrificed and his friend lives to tell the tale. In the original story, Peachy dies the day after visiting Kipling.

Huston wanted to make this for years, originally with Clark Gable as Daniel and Humphrey Bogart as Peachy. "But they died on me." Connery and Caine had been friends since their pre-fame days. Caine's lovely wife Shakira was a last-minute addition as Roxanne. At first she refused but Huston took her aside and convinced her somehow.

In another bit of late casting, the old man who plays the high priest was originally the site night watchman. After a few days of filming they noticed he was exhausted because no one told him he didn't have to continue his night job while acting during the day. Wasn't he great? 100 years old.

Quite a lot of improvisation, including the whole early scene when the partners are up on charges before the government official. Huston, like Hitchcock, gave very little specific direction, instructing the actors only when something was wrong. "You pick the right people and you don't have to direct them."

In my original review I said Connery did his own stunt when falling off the rope bridge. Caine writes that it was a stunt-man, which is more plausible. The making-of feature lets us believe it was Connery without explicitly saying so.

Filmed in Morocco. Clothes by Edith Head.

Alexander the Great really did operate in that area and marry Roxanne. Her country used to be a crossroads for central Asia, pretty much wrecked by the Mongols 1500 years later.

The DVD has some problem with the telecine I don't remember seeing elsewhere. It's like the picture goes out of focus and the fine detail trembles several times a minute. We really need a better version.

"God's holy trousers!"



-Bill

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post #411 of 2257 Old 12-17-2010, 04:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), directed by Bryan Forbes.

"Don't be afraid, dear. It's only a game."

In a slow descent into nightmare, Myra, a professional psychic, and her tender, weak-willed husband, Billy, kidnap a little girl. They don't want the money; they want the fame and publicity that will come when Myra uses her psychic powers to help find the girl.

Vampires aren't scary because they aren't real. Psychos are both. Myra has become deranged by the loss of her own child and she really believes in her powers. Or does she? In an awful moment Billy realizes his wife is crazier than even he believed. The story is not explicitly supernatural, unless... what exactly happens in the final scene?

"We're mad, you and me. We're both mad."

The opening is a bit stagey but the story flows remorselessly after that. Nothing explicitly gruesome, it's the sort of slow tension and dread where the viewer wishes: "Please, don't." We have some Hitchcock quotes: the peephole from Psycho, climbing the stairs with the glass of milk from Suspicion, and even a scene that suggests Rope where a buffet was served on a dead man's coffin. And a moment of dark humor when they fuss over the wording of the ransom note.

Great UK cast, with Kim Stanley (American) and Richard Attenborough as Myra and Billy. Stanley did few movies, more TV and much theater. I see she was the narrator in To Kill a Mockingbird. Attenborough has a false nose for some reason. The always sad, always dangerous Patrick Magee appears as the police Inspector at the end.

Myra says "brightness falls from the air" which is a line from "In Time of Pestilence" by Thomas Nashe (1567-1601). I know this only because the phrase was used as the title of a rather good science fiction novel by James Tiptree Jr, pen name of Alice B. Sheldon.

John Barry score. The story has been done as an opera and the film was remade as Japanese horror.

The DVD image has been sharpened such that it looks more like video than the probably excellent film it once was. That's a shame.



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post #412 of 2257 Old 12-20-2010, 06:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Footsteps in the Dark (1941), directed by Lloyd Bacon.

Blue-blood financier Errol Flynn has a secret life as a mystery writer. He gets tangled up in a real murder case.

It's too light and fluffy to be really enjoyable. Flynn had great comic talent and could have had a career apart from his action pictures, but needed better scripts.

Many familiar Warner faces: Brenda Marshall, Alan Hale, Ralph Bellamy, William Frawley.

Warner Archive title, available for rent from http://www.classicflix.com/.



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post #413 of 2257 Old 12-22-2010, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Bachelor Mother (1939), directed by Garson Kanin.

Shop-girl Ginger Rogers tries to turn in an abandoned baby but no one will believe it's not hers. To keep her job she has to keep the kid, which is a burden at first but of course she goes soft. Good thing it's a comedy or the story would be awfully grim. In a wicked turnabout, snooty and patronizing David Niven, son of her employer, is implicated as the father. Miraculously, it all works out.

Not a top-drawer screwball, but still a pretty good romantic comedy. Taking place from Christmas to New Years, it's a sort of holiday film. Great happy New Year's mob scene outdoors. Lots of dancing but no dance numbers.

Rogers combines dignity with wit and comic timing. Niven cornered the market on the distinguished yet befuddled leading man. The baby was terrific, a real scene stealer.

The 1939 sexual innuendo was apparently ok if treated comically and implied making babies.

According to Niven, he had no training and in Hollywood just worked in bit parts and attended parties until invited to be a star. Easy.

Warner Archive title, available for rent from http://www.classicflix.com/.



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post #414 of 2257 Old 12-26-2010, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
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The Rage of Paris (1938), directed by Henry Koster.

A neglected screwball comedy. With a little tweaking it could have been one of the best. Plenty of snappy patter, but also some dead lines. Funny bits, but also clumsy timing. Despite its faults, it's a keeper.

Waifish and funny Danielle Darrieux, looking for modeling work, has an embarrassing close encounter with Douglas Fairbanks Jr when she undresses in his office by mistake. Later she and a gal pal borrow from the always frantic and funny Mischa Auer to fund a gold-digging assault on a millionaire. As she begins to have ethical qualms Fairbanks arrives to save his friend from her clutches. They spar for a while and he finally kidnaps her and takes her to one of those great, lavish country cabins that exist only on movie sets. How do you suppose it ends?

Actor Charles Coleman, Fairbanks' valet, has 231 titles in the IMDB, almost all of them valets, butlers, doormen, etc.

Available for free download. My Alpha Video DVD is pretty sad and I would really like a nice restoration. The IMDB's only disc entry is for a French version: "La coqueluche de paris", but the Alpha is in stock at Amazon.



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post #415 of 2257 Old 12-28-2010, 04:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Of Human Bondage (1934), directed by John Cromwell.

Efficiently condensed version of Maugham's large book. Pre-Code (sort of) but nothing terribly outrageous.

It's the tale of Leslie Howard's obsessive and degrading love for Bette Davis, a nasty piece of work. She reenters his life several times with disastrous results long after he's stopped loving her, but he can't stop caring.

Davis made a big splash with this performance. Today it seems a bit much but maybe that's how Mildred behaved: always a bit broad and exaggerated. She has a good look for the character: sort of weird and unhealthy.

Howard is wittier and more clever than the Philip of the book, who is weak and aimless. He gives a very sensitive performance; the point of our obsessions is that they make no sense and we can't control them.

The camera work and composition are often rather fine. Max Steiner score.

It took me forever to get through the book. I liked Cakes and Ale and Ashenden (which Hitchcock mined for The Secret Agent) quite a bit more. The book is heartfelt but uncomfortably autobiographical, the sort of thing you would tell a priest or therapist. The exhaustive details matter more to the author than to the average reader. And the bits with Mildred go on and on.

Available online for free.



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post #416 of 2257 Old 12-28-2010, 06:53 AM
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Don't know if this is appropriate here as it's not available, but here goes:
The Uninvited (1944)
Starring Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp, Gail Russel.
From IMDB.com:
"A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house's unsavory past."
It's a ghost story, and probably one of the best ever.
The cast is terrific, and the story manages to be nicely creepy without the gore typical of ghost stories of today.
The story revolves around the character played by Gail Russel, about 19 years old if memory serves, and how/why she feels such a strong attachment to the mansion she hadn't lived in since she was a baby.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, this title is not only not on BD, but it's also never been released on DVD. This amazes me, as it's truly a classic.
It's on TMC occasionally. If you like ghost stories, and old B&W films with great actors, I highly recommend you catch it when TMC shows it.
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post #417 of 2257 Old 12-30-2010, 06:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), directed by John Boorman.

Or: Regan Has Two Bodies.

Probably one of the most hated film sequels, partly on its own merits and partly because the original was so well liked. It gets 3.6 at the IMDB. I'd never seen the whole thing before.

It's pluses: Boorman has a lot of imagination. Richard Burton appears as the new priest; Max von Sydow and Linda Blair return. Ennio Morricone score.

Flickers of a good story try to emerge: the notion that the demon is playing a long game and operates independently of time and space. That the scientific apparatus and investigation into Fr Merrin's death are cunning traps. That Regan remembers her possession and is fighting an unseen battle against the demon.

These hints can't overcome all the problems. It's slow and boring, with none of the deep tone of spiritual menace and loathsomeness of the original. They try to substitute insectoid horror but it's not the same. The plot barely hangs together and the action finale makes no sense. They are forever messing with the mind-meld apparatus and introduce an element of cuteness which is fatal to this type of story.

Talking out the plot is bad in both books and in film. And there is something extra cheap-looking about most 1970s horror. I don't know what it is: lighting, color, film, sets? (See early Cronenberg) Dubbing also makes the film seem cheap when the voices and footsteps come from some dead studio space.

I don't know if it was meant to be funny, but the heretic priest taking the adolescent girl to a shabby hotel for their "experiments" gave me a chuckle.

With James Earl Jones. Paul Henreid's last film.



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post #418 of 2257 Old 12-30-2010, 08:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), directed by John Boorman.
Slow week Bill? What ever possessed you to even consider watching this? Is this the new "equal time for turkeys" approach? Or you just needed a good laugh?
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post #419 of 2257 Old 12-30-2010, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post
Slow week Bill? What ever possessed you to even consider watching this? Is this the new "equal time for turkeys" approach? Or you just needed a good laugh?
(a) It was at the local mom & pop store: 4 titles, 7 days, $6. The others were "Earthsea", "Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara" (just for the collection) and "Dog Day Afternoon" (review coming).

(b) I'd never seen it before. How can I judge? Sometimes you find neglected or disparaged gems. Not this time, I admit...

(c) John Boorman completist project.

(d) I try to find the good in everything. Don't the thumbnails make you want to see it again? Just a little? Meditate on Linda Blair and the lurking evil of Hollywood? No? You're a hard case.

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post #420 of 2257 Old 12-30-2010, 11:56 AM
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Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

I was standing in line with a first date to buy tickets for this movie on opening night, not having read any reviews of it. The people coming out of the previous showing were laughing and begging those of us in line to cut and run for our lives while there was still time. We did. The poor souls standing in the "already have tickets" line and were just then being ushered in looked like the group that was just told the book titled, "To Serve Man", was a cookbook.

We went to see Annie Hall instead. Good choice.

To this day I have not seen it. Although, I have been tempted to rent it because the clips I've seen made it look like one of those hilarious Worst Movies Award winners that can be fun if you're in the right mood with the right company.

Isn't the evil spirit called "Bazoozoo" and manifests itself by a grapefruit popping out of James Earl Jones' mouth or something like that?
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