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post #1681 of 2322 Old 04-16-2016, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
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The Nightcomers (1971), produced and directed by Michael Winner.

What happened before the new governess arrived in The Turn of the Screw? Or, if you prefer the film version, in The Innocents (1961). The gardener and former governess are dead and we are given to believe that they had a corrupting effect on the children, who saw things they shouldn't have. Exactly what were these people up to?

Now we can see the whole sordid truth. Irish rogue Quint had a taste for bondage and degradation and posh Miss Jessel just couldn't tell him "no". The children are indeed watching and have to try it for themselves. Thankfully, with clothes on and no actual sex that we know of. It's all rather perverse. The director cleared it with the British censor first, but it turned out that all the censor wanted was to meet Marlon Brando.

Stephanie Beacham provides buxom, submissive expanses of skin. Brando was said to be pretty rough in the sex scenes, doing what he wanted, which was quite a bit. He must have been in a Last Tango mood around then. As porn it is both soft and raw, if that makes any sense.

How does it all work as a film? More as an oddity than as a valuable work in itself. In recent conversation we wondered if The Night of the Following Day (1968) weren't Brando's most obscure film. This one ought to be in the running.

Jerry Fielding's classical score is lovely but much too grand for this project. I hear "Down By Sally Gardens"; if I had the soundtrack I'd listen for other folk themes.

Available on DVD. The director provides a tell-all commentary track:

  • The little girl was actually 19, dressed to look younger. At the end of shooting Brando said "Nice ass. Wish I'd noticed it sooner."
  • Brando had been rejected for The Godfather when he made this. None of his previous 11 films had made money, so he was not exactly box office gold.
  • Winner did not find Brando difficult to work with: always punctual, generous, professional. Sometimes strange and childish, and a big practical joker.
  • He also got on with other actors judged temperamental: Orson Welles, Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster, Faye Dunaway.
  • He found camera and lighting men who could work quickly, doing 30 set-ups a day rather than the usual 5 or 6. I suspect the actors appreciated that, being able to get on with the film rather than waiting around.
  • Too many Brando stories to repeat. He had a permanent girlfriend with him on the shoot and also a constant stream of other flames passing through. How did he manage that? "You have to have the right smile".
  • He wanted to be really drunk when telling a drunken story to the children, so they shot that scene at the end. Definitely plastered, but perfect.



-Bill
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post #1682 of 2322 Old 04-18-2016, 09:38 AM
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I am surprised nobody has mentioned 2001: A Space Odyssey yet. I find it one of the most important sci-fi movies and to this day I cannot believe it was done back in 1968. I love watching it these days and noticing how accurate some of it technological predictions are. Like tablets, for example...
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post #1683 of 2322 Old 04-18-2016, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Oggy Shopov View Post
I am surprised nobody has mentioned 2001: A Space Odyssey yet. I find it one of the most important sci-fi movies and to this day I cannot believe it was done back in 1968. I love watching it these days and noticing how accurate some of it technological predictions are. Like tablets, for example...
I posted a brief review: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

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post #1684 of 2322 Old 04-18-2016, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
I posted a brief review: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

-Bill
Apologies for not seeing it the first time around - I searched for it, but I must have messed up the spelling. Anyway, that is a pretty good review.
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post #1685 of 2322 Old 04-19-2016, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Oggy Shopov View Post
Apologies for not seeing it the first time around - I searched for it, but I must have messed up the spelling. Anyway, that is a pretty good review.
SEARCH is your friend. Get to know it. Or ... http://watershade.net/films/ (in Bill's sigline).

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post #1686 of 2322 Old 04-22-2016, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), directed by John Ford.

One of John Ford's continuing themes is that the hard men who tame the West are not able to live in it after. Their fierce civilizing characteristics make them unsuited to actual civilization.

Such is his creative power that Ford can not only build this myth, he can take it apart again. What if time did not stop with the hero's triumph at the end of the film? Decades pass, men grow old and history is papered over with legend. What is the story of those who live long enough to see that?

Tremendous cast, an over-abundance of talent. James Stewart is too old to play the idealistic young lawyer, but maybe this is a second career. He's still has that earnest civic enthusiasm of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

Lee Marvin is great as the crazed, sadistic villain with a whip. You'd think a role this vivid would have typed him permanently, but he was able to play a variety of characters after.

Notes:

  • I think the political convention scenes toward the end could have been condensed.
  • Mostly shot on sound-stages, but it seems to work this time.
  • I tried to count the number of times John Wayne calls James Stewart "Pilgrim", but lost track at 16.
  • I'd forgotten: Woody Strode enters the saloon, and the bartender is kind of apologetic. "Now, Pompey, you know I can't serve you..." Wayne isn't having that, insisting on Old West integrated drinking places! But Pompey isn't having it either.
  • It was a unhappy shoot. Ford was in a bad mood, irritated by studio interference, and took it out on the cast.
  • Edith Head costumes.
  • The famous Gene Pitney song (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David!) is not in the movie.

Available on a fine-looking Blu-ray.



-Bill

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post #1687 of 2322 Old 04-29-2016, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
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42nd Street (1933), directed by Lloyd Bacon.

I believe this is the first film with Busby Berkeley production numbers available on Blu-ray. A hugely popular genre in the 1930s, these all featured thin plots about romance and ambition back stage at the theater, with sometimes dazzling song and dance numbers set in gargantuan spaces, with the characteristic overhead shots of human kaleidoscopes.

A DVD boxed set had one disc of just these numbers, which is mostly what people want to see, the stories themselves being tedious. The Blu-ray has a menu selection for "just the songs".

This was pre-Code and, without being too explicit, we get some skimpy outfits, sexual situations and sharp comments from the women. Ginger Rogers is called "Anytime Annie": the only time she said "no" she misheard the question. Her gag this time is carrying a dog, wearing a monocle and putting on a posh accent while she hunts for a show-biz sugar daddy.

As much as the eye is drawn to her, Ginger is just a supporting player. The female lead is Ruby Keeler, whose talents always seemed modest to me. I see this quote from her: "It's really amazing. I couldn't act. I had that terrible singing voice, and now I can see I wasn't the greatest tap dancer in the world, either." This makes me like her better.

When I rented this I thought it would be the one that starts with Ginger singing "We're in the Money" in pig-latin, finishing with Joan Blondell's version of the Depression lament, "Remember My Forgotten Man". But that's another film: Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933). Another memorable entry is Footlight Parade (1933) with great hoofer James Cagney singing the mind-virus song "Shanghai Lil" to (again) Ruby Keeler.

Note all three of these are from the same year, all are from Warner and feature a big crossover in cast and crew:



The plot is a bit more serious in 42nd Street, but it is still back-stage soap opera. We do have two startling segments:

  • "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" is about having sex in the sleeping car of a train. I did not know that. Even more: most of the couples are woman who seem happy with the arrangement.
  • The final title number is a bizarre "street life" extravaganza with murder and suicide. ("That'll have them rolling in the aisles" -- Shakespeare in Love (1998)).

Warner Archive Blu-ray.



-Bill

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post #1688 of 2322 Old 05-05-2016, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
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The Andromeda Strain (1971), produced and directed by Robert Wise.

A returning space probe brings back a deadly alien organism: it wipes out an entire desert town almost instantly, turning human blood into powder. Luckily the best and brightest have prepared for this and assemble a team of scientists in the usual super-secret underground base. Take care: a nuclear bomb is on hand to correct any mistakes they make. Meanwhile, out in the world, things are not going according to plan...

Michael Crichton's first book was phenomenally successful; it was serialized in my home town paper. That made sense at the time but I'm no longer sure why. Maybe the high-tech space race had prepared people for a science mystery procedural, or perhaps it was dark forebodings about biological warfare.

I remember this one fondly but it hasn't worn very well. As nostalgia, sure, but even as such the slow, deliberate pace is a problem. The scientists are methodical and that is part of the detection procedural, but we can take only so much of their obvious pride in new gadgetry: a CAT scanner! Light pen! Interactive computer with natural language expert system! It's not wrong to be dated (how could it be otherwise?) but a certain amount of "stuff" is enough.

Notes:

  • The deadly space-probe is like Night Of The Living Dead (1968).
  • The lone scientist in an empty airliner is like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
  • The countdown to atomic detonation is like Goldfinger (1964).
  • They break into multi-pane images a few times, which was supposed to be the next big thing back then.
  • Techno-brutal score.
  • I hope no lab animals were harmed while making this. In an extra, director Wise says not: the monkey was suffocated with carbon monoxide then revived at the last instant. He claims the ASPCA supervised and approved. It looks unpleasant.

Available on Blu-ray. My thumbnails are from an all-region German import. Black levels are poor.



-Bill

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post #1689 of 2322 Old 05-09-2016, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Sole Survivor (1970), directed by Paul Stanley.

Years ago in an online film discussion group, the most common "what was that movie?" question was "What was that one about the ghosts around the crashed bomber in the desert?"

Answer: that was this film from the much-loved ABC Movie of the Week series. Richard Basehart -- the survivor who bailed out -- visits the wreckage 17 years later with a team of Air Force investigators. William Shatner is the kiss-ass officer in a hurry to cover up any scandal. Vince Edwards is the dogged major who just won't let it go.

Already there: five ghost crewman who survived the crash but died in the desert. They've been waiting all this time to be found, the same people they always were, although even ghosts get tired. They just want their bones moved home to someplace with water and greenery. Once found they can rest.

Imagine their surprise and outrage when their crew-mate -- now a general -- arrives and starts lying about the final mission. How are they going to set it straight? And how guide the visitors to their lost bones?

Ghosts can't be effective in the world, but one thing they can do is haunt the living.

It's strange: who do we most envy? The crew are still young and spend their days playing baseball. The general is old and drinks himself to sleep at night. One crewman says he has no real home to go back to, but feels that home is with the others in the desert.

I don't think I've seen the setup before, and it is strange and moving: the crewman's terror when his bones are finally uncovered, the frightfulness of being exposed and looked at.

In retrospect it could have been tightened up a bit; the political squabbling among the investigators could have been condensed. The score is of that modernist TV drama style; I don't know what to call the genre.

Said to be inspired by the case of the Lady Be Good, also used for a Twilight Zone episode: King Nine Will Not Return (1960).

Filmed at El Mirage Dry Lake in the Mojave.

This was unavailable on home video for decades; I'm not sure how often it was even broadcast. Just recently it became available on disc.

The region B Blu-ray is by MediumRare/Freemantle/CBS in the UK. The package includes a PAL DVD version.



-Bill
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post #1690 of 2322 Old 05-17-2016, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I Walked with a Zombie (1943), produced by Val Lewton, directed by Jacques Tourneur.

A nurse from wintry Canada accepts a job on the West Indies island of Saint Sebastian, in a plot designed to be Jane Eyre on a Voodoo Island. She falls in love with her employer while caring for his eerie, catatonic wife. As we learn more, we can't help wondering: is the wife still living, or has she become one of the undead?

This is one of the most admired horror films of the 1940s, and Lewton's favorite. Well, admired since; the contemporary New York Times review called it "a dull, disgusting exaggeration of an unhealthy, abnormal concept of life".

The most famous sequence is the nighttime journey to the hounfour, with the wind whistling through the dry sugarcane, and the imposing zombie Carre-Four guarding the way:



All shot on a sound-stage and beautifully evocative.

Remarkably, the whole film is only 68 minutes long. Just as Lewton and Tourneur hint with shadows rather than reveal explicitly, so the secrets of the plot are merely sketched. There is no time for dramatic revelations, but the story leaves hidden workings in the mind of the viewer.

The wife had a fever and lapsed into unconsciousness. The two half-brothers who love her have caught her fever, intimations of sexual disease. Their love triangle is a scandal on the island.

Like the nurse we are new arrivals and can only glimpse the deep, tragic history of the island. The wooden statue in the mansion's courtyard is Saint Sebastian, pierced with arrows. It had been the figurehead of a ship with slaves chained in the hold, bringing them to work on the sugar plantation. The white owners of the mill say "we" when referring to the former slaves; the sorrow of their history has absorbed them all.

Watching this unfold, we are for a time disoriented, waiting for the villain to appear. There isn't one. No villain, no monster. Not even the weird, imposing Carre-Four, with his mute yearning desire that we associate with the undead. He needs to fetch the zombie wife away, back to where she belongs.

As scary as they seem to an outsider, the voodoo ceremonies are meant to be portrayed authentically and in what seems to me to be a kindly fashion. It works for the blacks who believe in it. It works on the whites who pretend that they don't.

Lewton had a reputation for using minority actors sympathetically, as real people, and this is certainly his most ambitious effort in that regard.

I'm not sure how this got past the censors: the nurse is asked about euthanasia and we have an actual mercy killing and suicide. The Code didn't allow that.

The film was inspired by a non-fiction magazine series.

Available on DVD with a happy, rapid fire commentary track by two film authorities from the UK who have a wealth of knowledge about Lewton, his movies and the genre.



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post #1691 of 2322 Old 05-22-2016, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Time After Time (1979), written and directed by Nicholas Meyer.

HG Wells is just about to test his Time Machine when Jack the Ripper strikes again! Jack -- who turns out to be a friend of HG -- steals the machine and escapes into the future. Wells has loosed a madman into the utopia of 1979 and must pursue him and bring him back to face justice.

Who will adapt best to the late twentieth century: the mild, perhaps naive utopian Herbert, or the psychotic, murderous Jack? As you would suspect, it's not even close. The humor prevents it from being too heavy, keeping it a fantasy of adventure and romance, with a time travel meet-cute with the heroine.

In the end HG has given up on utopia: "Every age is the same. It's only love that makes any of them bearable."

This is a great mashup of two story-lines, similar to the director's book The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), where Sherlock Holmes met Sigmund Freud. In the current film Wells has to be his own Sherlock, but discovers that it's best not to use the name. American police of the future don't respond well.

Meyer's first film as director. In the commentary track he still likes the picture, but also critiques the many things he would do differently. He wanted a movie that would be exciting and adventurous without being overly violent. As it is, Malcolm McDowell thinks they lost a lot of female audience because of the Ripper plot.

McDowell and David Warner had been pals since their young actor days, which gives them good chemistry both as friends and adversaries. Speaking of chemistry: McDowell met his future wife Mary Steenburgen, age 28, here. When told they were falling in love, Meyer jokes that he was shocked: "I thought it was because I was such a great director. They're so convincing!"

Notes:

  • It's an efficient setup: we're time traveling in the first 20 minutes. By contrast it takes 45 minutes to reach the far future in The Time Machine (1960).
  • Wells trying to explain to the police that he has traveled through time to prevent an inhuman menace from murdering an innocent woman: that's a lot like Kyle Reece in the later Terminator (1984).
  • No special effect budget to speak of, but that's ok, we accept the device. They do a time travel sequence like the psychedelic portion of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). I would have trimmed it.
  • Some early plot machinery with three different gizmos that plug in to the Time Machine is perhaps wasted. I don't think anyone remembers what they are for.
  • Of historical interest: a prominent location is the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, design inspired by the futuristic look of Things to Come (1936), an HG Wells book and film project.
  • Early screen credits for Shelley Hack and Corey Feldman, age 8. Also a scene for Patti D'Arbanville, last seen in Real Genius (1985).
  • Miklós Rózsa is one of my favorite film composers, but this music seems heavy for the material.


Available on DVD. The commentary track has Meyer and McDowell, but I am not positive that they were sitting together at the time. Both are happy but have no interaction. I suspect McDowell was listening to an earlier commentary by Meyer and adding his own thoughts. It's skillfully edited.



-Bill

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post #1692 of 2322 Old 05-24-2016, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), directed by George Roy Hill.

The most famous western outlaw buddy comedy. Loosely inspired by real characters, it is another story -- along with The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) -- that writer William Goldman had to tell as soon as he heard it.

In the late 1960s filmmakers worshiped outlaws and rebels. Add humor, romance, a couple of handsome, sexy stars (with luminous Katherine Ross for the gentlemen) and give it a retro-adventure gloss: instant blockbuster. Critics hated it, audiences disagreed.

It's nicely quirky until they kill six bandits in South America, then turns a bit sad. We have foreshadowing that all will not turn out well:

  • The friendly sheriff predicting they will die bloody: "You just get to choose where".
  • Etta Place saying she won't watch them die...
  • ...and then going home before them.

The stars do some of their own stunts: Paul Newman on a bicycle and Robert Redford on top of a train.

In retrospect: "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" seems like a astonishingly bad song for this, but it won an Academy Award!

Would they do this today? Redford seduces Ross at gunpoint. It's a bit of comical role-play but we don't know that at first

Edith Head costumes, Conrad L. Hall cinematography.

Available on Blu-ray. The image seems soft, but I suspect that was the filming technique, meant to give a romantic antique look. The black levels are not very good. Edited commentary track.



-Bill

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post #1693 of 2322 Old 05-26-2016, 05:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), directed by Mike Nichols.

It's amazing, after all these years, all these films, how many lines I remember from this one. Not just the words, but the reading and the meaning. I've been quoting them all this time, not with vicious intent I hope, but you never know.

Partly this is because I saw it when young and impressionable. It made an academic career less appealing, and -- along with a certain Carly Simon song -- made the prospect of marriage much less appealing. I finally succumbed at age 40; it must have taken the effect that long to wear off.

The other factor is the quality of Edward Albee's words themselves, polished and weaponized, meant to wound, meant to leave a mark. The story is like a circular exorcism; I don't know of anything else like it.

The damnedest thing is that George and Martha really are in love, and well-matched. It's easier to see in those moments when they forget to fight, but even when tearing at each other we have to understand their rage comes from disappointment, each in the other. You experience that only for people you care about.

Like Vertigo (1958), a plot secret transforms the entire movie for a second viewing. The secret is hidden in plain sight; George and Martha discuss it openly, but we don't understand at first.

George seems like a submissive, whipped man, but that is deceptive. Who dominates at the end, and who plots his victory from the outset? He tells Martha: "Don't start with the bit", knowing that will be a red flag. He provokes that whole traumatic evening, deciding to bring everything crashing down.

The dawn seems more peaceful.

As for the title: Woolf was mentally ill and committed suicide. Everyone's afraid of that.

This was bold filmmaking for Burton and Taylor. I always presumed they were the same way at home, but really know nothing of their biographies.

It's tremendous how the talents of the cast balance each other and serve the story:

  • Richard Burton's power was always in his voice, but here we see him learning to listen, and still projecting his force through a passive character. Despite his film work he was most comfortable as a stage actor and this confined, intimate story is very natural for him.
  • Elizabeth Taylor is only 34 here but looks much more worn. She put on 30 lbs to do it. One of the most beautiful women in twentieth century film apparently had no personal vanity: "This glamour: the sooner it's gone the better. Enough is enough."

    She was the only member of the cast without stage experience and the others were in awe of her as a movie actress. While appreciating her beauty and screen presence, in the past it always seemed to me that she was better when not speaking, but this time she pulls out all the stops and owns it: vulgar, screechy, sex-starved, and utterly convincing.
  • George Segal at first seems like the normal guy the viewer can identify with. We learn not to. Robert Redford declined the role, fearing it would be bad for his image.
  • Sandy Dennis -- last seen in That Cold Day in the Park (1969) -- gives those sorts of performances I most appreciate after the fact, looking back. Here she is half of a deceptively "normal" couple we find to be screwed up in their own way. At first she is funny, then irritating, and finally pathetic.

Alex North score, Haskell Wexler cinematography.

Available on a Warner Archive Blu-ray with two commentary tracks and several extras. The image detail is ok, but the black level is inconsistent. It's a must-have regardless.

The first commentary is a conversation between Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh. They go deep into filmmaking craft and it is a pleasure to listen in.

This was Nichols's first film and he says the best advice he got was: "Fire someone on the first day".

The second commentary has wide-ranging remarks by cinematographer Wexler. Not just on the camera work but fond notes on the cast and crew:

  • They became friends, but from his description Nichols seemed thin-skinned at the time.
  • Did Burton work while drunk? Sometimes.
  • Despite her harridan look, Liz Taylor wanted to be photographed well and always hugged him after seeing the dailies.
  • He says she had no celebrity snobbery, treating everyone as an equal.
  • Such was her talent that you could not see her craft until later, while editing: "Look, she left space for the score there..."
  • Jack Warner actually said to him: "Do this picture or you'll never work in this town again".



-Bill
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post #1694 of 2322 Old 05-26-2016, 09:51 AM
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^^^ I share your fondness for Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe. Watching it makes for a harrowing but worthwhile journey. It is a masterpiece, not be missed. Although Elizabeth Taylor was only 33 when the film was made, she gained a lot of weight for her role and made me at least believe that she was an alcoholic. Of course in the case of Richard Burton, it wasn't an act. Taylor richly deserved her Best Actress Oscar for her performance. To this day, I remember seeing the film first run in San Diego in 1966.
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post #1695 of 2322 Old 05-26-2016, 10:04 AM
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Loved Time After Time when it came out (as a boy growing up in San Francisco, who could not admire all the location footage, including some North Beach, Cow Hollow, and Marina district locations), still do. It's old fashioned, has its heart clearly in an earlier age of cinematic entertainment.

And the initial scenes in the eerily modern (then) Embarcadero Center provide a tongue in cheek view of Wells' "journey into utopia." I still love his delight at realizing that "fries" are ... "pommes frites!" His ordering at McDonald's is classic.
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post #1696 of 2322 Old 06-05-2016, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Woman in the Moon (1929), directed by Fritz Lang.

Decades after predictions that mountains of gold could be found on the Moon, a expedition is finally set to go and get some. We have an hour and a half of background before blast off, with a love triangle and a crime syndicate inserting itself into the mission.

Luckily, the far side of the moon has an atmosphere (who knew?) so our explorers can walk around without suits. After a shootout with the chief baddie the onboard oxygen supply is depleted, meaning someone has to stay behind...

Lang's last silent film, this is said to be the first serious science fiction film, the one that invented the countdown before liftoff. Despite the lunar atmosphere we have some good physics here, a multi-stage rocket and weightlessness. At 2h49m long, it is an ambitious epic, if not always a fast-moving one. Technically impressive, less so in the human dimension. Both Lang's M (1931) and even Metropolis (1927) have deeper characters.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino, restored from the original negatives. As you would expect, image quality is variable and there is a lot of damage that can't be repaired. Now and then the quality is quite striking.

I found the score to be irritating repetitive keyboard noodling.



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post #1697 of 2322 Old 06-09-2016, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Days of Heaven (1978), written and directed by Terrence Malick.

After killing a man in a Chicago steel mill, Bill flees with girlfriend Abby and kid sister Linda to the wheat fields of the Great Plains. He and Abby will pretend to be brother and sister, a trick pulled more than once in Genesis (and we even have a plague of locusts later).

A rich farmer doesn't have long to live; why shouldn't Abby marry him so they can get his money after he dies? What could go wrong with that plan?

Malick's second film, this is a cinematography showpiece with gorgeous images throughout. Maybe too beautiful for the story, leading us to suspect we are about to see an epic tale. It's a simpler plot only 94 minutes long.

Many scenes set during "magic hour" just around sunrise and sunset. It has a look both beautiful and real, reminiscent of Heaven's Gate (1980).

Malick is also fascinated by wild things: the poor creatures of the fields, fish in the streams, plants sprouting underground.

Ennio Morricone's score nicely captures the romantic period of Saint-Saëns and Debussy. Leo Kotke is credited with "additional music", probably fiddle tunes.

Haskell Wexler claimed to have shot over half of the film but is credited only as "additional photographer". In an extra he doesn't seen bitter.

Filmed in Alberta. They started farther south but delays forced them to follow the harvest north.

Available on Criterion Blu-ray with a commentary track by crew members. They all portray Malick (everyone calls him "Terry") as an eccentric genius who knew film stock better than the cinematographers, better than Kodak.

They also say:

  • Although a difficult location shoot, they remember the project fondly.
  • Editing took years. They didn't get much static from the studio because all eyes were on Friedkin's Sorcerer (1977), a much more expensive project.
  • It's not true that the entire film was shot during "magic hour". You can use overcast days, too. And some day-for-night.
  • The cinematographers did not believe Malick could get away with these low-light techniques, but he was right.
  • Malick wanted John Travolta for the Richard Gere part. Geneviève Bujold was considered for the Brooke Adams role, and Tommy Lee Jones instead of Sam Shepard.
  • Linda Manz -- who also narrates -- was something of a street kid, although her mother was also present on location.
  • The thick locust swarm was a practical effect: masses of maple tree seeds (or blackened peanut shells?) dropped from a helicopter, then played in reverse.

Several good extras, including one by Richard Gere. He is thoughtful and well-spoken (more so than playwright Sam Shepard!)



-Bill
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post #1698 of 2322 Old 06-16-2016, 07:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Young and Innocent (1937), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Sometimes brief images affect you so deeply. In this case a fading glimpse of the English countryside between the wars, when young people were no longer damaged by the previous one, and the looming prospect of another world war could still be ignored.

A time in film when Boys and Girls Own Adventures could be fun and exciting, when the police inspector's daughter could pick up a charming fugitive and -- tooling her trusty crank-started 1923 Morris Cowley Bullnose down narrow but always sunny country lanes -- seek out the real murderer and clear the young man's name.

Aka Girl Was Young, which is true: Nova Pilbeam was only 18 and still got the above the title credit. She had the child role in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) just a few years earlier:



We see a train... wait, that's a model train! It goes into a model town, and that's a model car, with model people inside it! Cut to our young people.

From a Josephine Tey novel, but as is often the case, Hitchcock used his own plot. We have the old double-chase, with the police pursuing an innocent man who is after the real killer. And is our young hero just slightly guilty? He knew the victim, not intimately he claims. So why is he in her will?

My thumbnails are from a region B Blu-ray from Network/ITV in the UK. You can see a lot of print damage in the form of vertical streaks, but it is still a decent presentation of the film, a big upgrade over the rather sad DVD versions I had in the past. With English subtitles.



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post #1699 of 2322 Old 06-20-2016, 04:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Rio Bravo (1959), produced and directed by Howard Hawks.

It's become an often-used setup, mythically powerful: the sheriff has the punk killer locked up and his powerful family wants him back. There will be blood. The myth includes a siege of the jail, although that doesn't happen here.

Everyone says this was intended to be the anti-High Noon (1952). Townspeople are willing to help the sheriff, but he won't allow it. Dimitri Tiomkin scored both films. Although this one has mostly incidental music, it was influential for Ennio Morricone's music in the Sergio Leone westerns.

Great credit is due to Dean Martin, who gives an earnest performance of the recovering alcoholic, showing us how hard it is.

Only in the movies would Angie Dickinson (age 28) fall for John Wayne's ugly mug. We fade to black when he carries her up the stairs. A couple of times she seems to be channeling Lauren Bacall from Hawks' own To Have and Have Not (1944). Walter Brennan provides comic relief in both films.

Little Ricky Nelson is 18 and must croon, echo chamber included.

Hawks did two loose remakes of the picture: El Dorado (1966) and Rio Lobo (1970), both with John Wayne.

In this case Technicolor gives the film an antique look.

Available on Blu-ray, but my thumbnails are from the DVD.



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post #1700 of 2322 Old 06-22-2016, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Crack in the World (1965), directed by Andrew Marton.

Ah, the high cost of green energy. An attempt to tap the planet's core results in global catastrophe.

What I like about this SF adventure is its seriousness and the lack of hand-wringing and guilt-ridden recriminations. Scientist Dana Andrews made a mistake which costs thousands of lives. In his few days remaining before he dies of cancer he races to make it right, in so far as possible.

Great 1960s underground base. Two miles underground! People were used to space program launches by this time and firing a rocket down into the earth was a nice variation. Some of the stunt work looks brutal.

On the down side: it's dialogue heavy and the love triangle tends toward the soapy.

Also: I hope that segment of the Earth that flew off into space was launched at five miles per second or it is coming down again.

I always enjoy seeing Janette Scott and this is a good leading role for her. I don't think she did anything else like the escape and survival scenes toward the end. I last saw her in School for Scoundrels (1960):



... and The Day of the Triffids (1962) (where she was also matched with Kieron Moore):



Dramatic score. Filmed in Spain.

Available on Blu-ray from Olive Films.



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post #1701 of 2322 Old 06-22-2016, 05:28 PM
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Spoiler!


I didn't realize that was her in School for Scoundrels. Dang that was a good movie, I have to see it again. Ian Carmichael was always dandy, loved him as Lord Peter Wimsey.
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post #1702 of 2322 Old 06-28-2016, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Grand Illusion (1937), directed by Jean Renoir.

We have certain expectations from a French film about French officers in a German POW camp during World War One. Our expectations are upset in this mostly benign view of universal humanity. The prisoners are treated well and the guards are kindly old men. The prisoners have a duty to escape: alas, that's when the shooting starts.

Perhaps the most affecting character is the aristocratic Prussian officer played by Erich von Stroheim, last seen in Five Graves to Cairo (1943) and Sunset Blvd. (1950). A flying ace grounded because of injuries and wearing a neck brace, he is unhappy at being reduced to jailer. He becomes close to a French officer of his own class. Both know that the War is changing everything and that their time is over. Captain de Boeldieu takes this philosophically; Commandant von Rauffenstein is more resentful toward the rising lower classes, and particularly toward the Jews, as you can tell from the way he enunciates Rosenthal.

In some ways this is parallel to the "passing of an age of the world" theme of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) and The Blue Max (1966). There will be no room for gentlemen or civilized warfare in the more savage future.

The director emphasized Rosenthal's Jewishness, knowing that it is soon going to matter outside of the 1937 film. The character is played by Marcel Dalio, last seen in Renoir's The Rules of the Game (1939) and as the croupier in Casablanca (1942) where he doesn't even get screen credit, so rich is that film with European refugees.

Later influences:

  • British officers erupt into a heart-tugging chorus of "La Marseillaise", just as the saloon crowd will do in Casablanca (1942) a few years later.
  • Tunnel-digging and dirt-spreading scenes were replicated exactly in The Great Escape (1963).

Banned first in Germany and Italy, then in France after WW2 started. Anti-war films are bad for national morale.

Renoir was a flier during the war and "everyman" character Jean Gabin wears his old uniform.

My thumbnails are from the Lionsgate/Studiocanal all-region Blu-ray in the odd 24.0hz frame rate. Criterion has a DVD (spine #1!) with commentary track.

These are restored from an original negative thought lost for many decades. It went from Paris to Berlin to Moscow to Toulouse where it sat in a box for 30 years.

Image quality is -- as you would expect -- of variable quality, but is often quite good.



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post #1703 of 2322 Old 06-30-2016, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ChromeJob
Loved Time After Time when it came out
 
I like it also....... Havent seen in many,many years!!
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post #1704 of 2322 Old 07-01-2016, 06:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), directed by George Roy Hill.

Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time, constantly jumping back and forth along his own timeline.

Sometimes he's an earnest, somewhat dim soldier captured by the Germans in WW2, then a successful optometrist who, after a head injury from a plane crash, begins writing up the whole story.

The happiest part of his life is the time -- after being kidnapped by aliens -- he spends on the planet Tralfamadore where he is placed on exhibit. Later they provide him with a human woman for mating: sexy actress Montana Wildhack. After a difficult but brief adjustment period they fall in love and have a child. She's the only one who understands about his time traveling.

He has visited the moment of his death many times and it no longer troubles him. He accepts the Tralfamadorian perspective. They see Time as an actual fourth dimension, making all of space-time fixed and inalterable. This goes beyond fatalism ("whatever is going to happen is going to happen") to a recognition that what happened in the past is always happening, as is what will happen in the future. It's all always "now".

Which is a sort of realization of eternity beyond time, made to conform to Vonnegut's customary view of the absurd, pointlessly tragic nature of life. I think the movie represents the book pretty well -- and the author was pleased with it -- but I read it just recently and don't know if someone who hadn't would get as much from it. The film gets the mood right.

The book is "semi-autobiographical" in that Vonnegut witnessed the firebombing of Dresden as a POW. He said that he was not Billy Pilgrim, but that he tried and failed to write about Dresden for many years, but finally could only write about Billy Pilgrim, who had become unstuck in time... He gives the number of fatalities at Dresden as 135,000, making it worse than Hiroshima. The modern estimate is more like 25,000.

Kudos to Valerie Perrine for being comically topless in 1972. When first arriving on Tralfamadore she panics and wrestles Billy to the ground. (Aside: That might be an interesting study: "Comical Nudity in Film". You get both arousal from sex and release by laughter, an alternative to actual sex. Was that the point of old burlesque shows? Maybe begin the project with 19-year-old Hedy Lamarr in Ecstasy (1933): skinny-dipping one night, her horse runs off with her clothes. Come the dawn she is running from bush to bush).

Score by Glenn Gould, playing Bach.

Available on DVD.



-Bill
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post #1705 of 2322 Old 07-01-2016, 08:34 AM
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Bill -- Thanks for the fond reminder of Slaughterhouse Five. I read Kurt Vonnegut's novel, loved it, and liked the film almost as well. It captured Vonnegut's ability to give us over the top humor underlain with a mood of sadness and regret.
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post #1706 of 2322 Old 07-01-2016, 09:48 AM
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Thanks, indeed. Although I've loved reading Vonnegut for decades, I've never seen the film. Guess I'll have to remedy that.
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post #1707 of 2322 Old 07-01-2016, 01:07 PM
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My screenwriting professor at film school did the adaptation for Slaughterhouse-Five, as he reminded us constantly. It was basically his only notable achievement as a writer.
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post #1708 of 2322 Old 07-01-2016, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
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My screenwriting professor at film school did the adaptation for Slaughterhouse-Five, as he reminded us constantly. It was basically his only notable achievement as a writer.
I reviewed Pretty Poison (1968); was that his novel? He didn't do the screenplay, though.

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post #1709 of 2322 Old 07-01-2016, 02:19 PM
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I reviewed Pretty Poison (1968); was that his novel? He didn't do the screenplay, though.
As I said, he only had the one notable achievement.

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post #1710 of 2322 Old 07-06-2016, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
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The World of Henry Orient (1964), directed by George Roy Hill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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