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post #2191 of 2243 Old 01-26-2019, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I've added thumbnails from the region A-B Optimum Blu-ray from the UK. The image is really rather good in the daylight scenes, maybe pushing the whites a little. No English subtitles, 24.0hz video.

On my own site I've split the two films into their own pages:


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-Bill
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post #2192 of 2243 Old 01-28-2019, 04:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Mademoiselle (1966), directed by Tony Richardson.

We get right to it, with spooky-eyed Jeanne Moreau opening the sluice gate and flooding a farm in a remote French village. We learn that she has been setting fires and later see her poisoning the water. No one knows who is committing these awful crimes and the whole town is going nuts with suspicion and paranoia.

We might suspect she has reasons for revenge, but then we see her crushing birds eggs with delight and realize she is psychotic. In what way, and is there a "why"? She is a schoolteacher and secretary at the town hall and is called "Miss" as a title of respect. She seems to have mingled desire and loathing for an Italian woodcutter and his son, which is very bad for them.

It goes into strange places: art film, horror story, erotic thriller. Our questions are not answered.

I got this because Richard Lester described it as the most beautiful black and white film he had ever seen. It was photographed by his usual cinematographer, David Watkin.

From a story by Jean Genet, screenplay by Marguerite Duras.

Available on DVD in an old nonanamorphic 4:3 letterboxed edition. This is terrible treatment for a scope ratio film, especially for one with such fine cinematography.



-Bill
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post #2193 of 2243 Old 02-07-2019, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Heaven Can Wait (1943), produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

After death, a society gentleman who has lived pretty well wants to be admitted to Hell. He tells his life story to "His Excellency" -- a sort of St Peter of the infernal regions, I think -- which actually contains very little that is terrifically bad. He married his cousin's fiance and was perhaps not perfectly faithful to her.

Ah, yes: the story of his regrets is the story of his love for her.

After the witty genius of Trouble in Paradise (1932), Design for Living (1933) and To Be or Not to Be (1942) this one is much more slack. The second half frankly drags. I know it is well-loved but the humor is sporadically joke-oriented and uninvolving. More fire from Gene Tierney's character would have helped.

I did have one big laugh: the helpful French maid reassures our disgruntled teen protagonist "Your soul is bigger than your pants!"

I know that filming in Technicolor was a big cumbersome operation: did that hamper the director's style?

It does give us a chance to see familiar faces in color: Don Ameche, Gene Tierney (also in Technicolor in Leave Her to Heaven (1945)), Charles Coburn, Marjorie Main, Eugene Pallette, Laird Cregar.

I never paid much attention to actor Allyn Joslyn, but here he is great as the earnestly dull Cousin Albert. Charles Coburn tries to save the picture as the rascal grandpa.

The film Heaven Can Wait (1978) with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie is unrelated and is actually a remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), which was based on play called Heaven Can Wait for even more confusion.

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion. No commentary track.



-Bill
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post #2194 of 2243 Old 02-13-2019, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
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I Was a Male War Bride (1949), directed by Howard Hawks.

In post-war Germany a French officer and American WAC Lt have a mission to deal with a black market problem, and we have much war of the sexes screwball comedy on their road-trip. When they fall in love and get married they must struggle with Army bureaucracy coping with the War Brides Act, which anticipates that new spouses will all be female.

Adapted from the biography of the real Henri Rochard, who went through something like this. Large parts are filmed in and around Heidelberg, Germany so we get good use of the real locations and a look at the post-war rubble.

Our first obstacle is believing Cary Grant as a Frenchman who can speak perfect Cary Grant English. He and Ann Sheridan have relaxed, friendly chemistry, but I'm not detecting a lot of fire. It was a difficult production because it seems everyone was very sick at one time or another.

As comedy it is a series of gags, some only mildly amusing. The leads seem to be doing many of their own stunts. The most pointed humor is the always popular "newlyweds can't get their wedding night" routine, which goes on for a long time. You may now have legal sex, but you can't. Grant: "They wouldn't do this in the French army!"

Some of the early service comedy banter resembles the director's later The Thing from Another World (1951). In fact, Kenneth Tobey, the lead in that film, shows up as a tough sailor here.

Available on DVD.



-Bill
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post #2195 of 2243 Old 02-20-2019, 07:05 AM - Thread Starter
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The L-Shaped Room (1962), written and directed by Bryan Forbes.

A young French woman arrives in London, pregnant and staying away from home for a while. All she can find or afford is a bug-infested boarding house filled with eccentrics and social misfits, with actual working prostitutes in the basement.

Everyone she meets presumes she wants to get rid of the baby and they offer her assistance in doing that. She thinks about it until she meets a condescending doctor; that turns her around and she decides to keep it. Later a nice National Health Service physician treats her decently and delivers her baby.

(Abortion was technically illegal at this time, but apparently you could get it done from a real doctor, in his office. He would sign a mental health waver and you would come in on a weekend when no one else was around. Cash up front).

She falls in love with a writer at the boarding house; that doesn't go well. She gets to know the other residents and eventually they become family. She'll miss them when she leaves.

My image of classic British films is that racially they are completely white throughout the kingdom. When we get to the kitchen sink realism era we finally see multi-racial street scenes and previously marginalized characters get to participate.

This is true of sexual orientation as well. One of the residents is an older washed up actress who we understand to be lesbian, fondly remembering better days. American Brock Peters (fresh from To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) where he played doomed Tom Robinson) puts on a West Indies accent and becomes a gay trumpet player. This is a particularly sensitive role: normally kindly and large-hearted, loneliness and jealousy makes him strike out and cause a lot of trouble.

Biggest kudos to Leslie Caron who just masters the lead, strong but not unbreakable.

Actor Tom Bell plays her love interest. I don't know him very well although I understand he has had a good TV career in the UK. The commentary track repeats a story I first heard on the track for Royal Flash (1975): his career was derailed when he got drunk at a reception and heckled Prince Philip, who didn't mind, but Bell was not forgiven by the entertainment powers.

Photographed by Douglas Slocombe. John Barry gets score credit but contributes just a little music for a jazz club. Some Brahms in the background but not a lot of music otherwise.

I think I have to be a completist for films by actor/writer/director Bryan Forbes. So far I have seen:


Available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with commentary by some of the regulars.



-Bill
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post #2196 of 2243 Old 02-26-2019, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Garden of Evil (1954), directed by Henry Hathaway.
New thumbnails from the Twilight Time Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #2197 of 2243 Old 03-02-2019, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Le Plaisir (1952), directed by Max Ophüls.

"House of Pleasure".

Three stories by de Maupassant, which I think was a wise choice. Ophüls' films sometimes suffered from weak scripts. The Earrings of Madame de... (1953) was good, but Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) was not very strong, and in Caught (1949) a good cast -- James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan -- were wasted on a trivial story.

But here he relies on a master storyteller with good results:

Le Masque

In a nightclub packed with interior windows the camera pans and tilts with the dizzy night life. An old man tries to regain his youth by putting on a mask and dancing until he drops.

La Maison Tellier

The longest and best segment. The friendly village bordello is more than a sex shop: it is a second home and community center for the men. The women working there have "roles" they put on, like actresses.

One evening the patrons find the lights are out and the doors locked. Shock and consternation! What has happened to them? The morose men collect and begin bickering.

As it turns out: Madame has taken all her people on the train to attend her niece's First Communion in another village. A vacation for the sex workers! They are well received and everyone has a good time.

Danielle Darrieux (The Rage of Paris (1938), 5 Fingers (1952), The Earrings of Madame de... (1953)) is one of the prostitutes, and Jean Gabin (Grand Illusion (1937)) is their host who becomes smitten with her.

Le Modèle

The tempestuous relation between an artist and his model, Simone Simon (Cat People (1942), The Curse of the Cat People (1944)).

Available on DVD from Criterion.



-Bill

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post #2198 of 2243 Old 03-06-2019, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
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The Chase (1966), directed by Arthur Penn.

Ex-farmer Marlon Brando is now sheriff of an unmanageable town, sort of Peyton Place (1957) translated into a Texas gothic location where everyone is armed and belligerent. Adultery is the town passion: the way they carry on in public, and those parties! Even the kids are wild and out of control. Brando and wife Angie Dickinson seem to have the only happy marriage around.

News flash: local bad boy Robert Redford has escaped from prison and is on his way back. Some are excited by the prospect, others terrified.

A fun part of this is a rich cast. From old Hollywood: E.G. Marshall, Miriam Hopkins, Henry Hull, Bruce Cabot. Newer faces: Robert Duvall, James Fox, Clifton James.

This is the film where Jane Fonda first shows she's got it and is going to have an acting career. And I want to make particular note of Janice Rule, who I've seen only in The Swimmer (1968) and 3 Women (1977). In this film her beauty and sexual appetite are mesmerizing.

The climactic burning junkyard as hell-on-earth, a festival atmosphere for the townsfolk, is memorable and disturbing.

On the down side:

  • It ticks a bunch of boxes that seem formulaic now, though were maybe less so at the time:
  • ...the violent passions of the South[-west].
  • ...the bad whites persecute Mexicans and blacks. One fellow is nearly murdered for "walking while black", really.
  • ...Brando gets beaten up, as always.
  • ...as usual Brando and Redford are both "outlaws" who don't mesh well with respectable hypocritical society. Rebels are more decent to minorities so we like them better.
  • Redford is an odd choice for "Bubber Reeves", with his patrician looks and Kennedy-esque hair.

JFK was on the director's mind: we have a close reenactment of Ruby shooting Oswald, this time on the jailhouse steps.

Brando's beating is remarkably brutal and bloody.

Writers Horton Foote and Lillian Hellman disowned it. The director said he was disappointed with the result. Editing was taken away from him and they used Brando's dullest version of each scene.

Music written and conducted by John Barry. Photographed by Joseph LaShelle and uncredited Robert Surtees.

Available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with a commentary track by regulars Nick Redman (1955--2019), Julie Kirgo and Lem Dobbs.

They love watching the film and have no end of stories about it, but also admit it is right on the border of "bad" with "should have been great".

For the score they say this is one of John Barry's weaker efforts.



-Bill
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post #2199 of 2243 Old 03-06-2019, 08:29 PM
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The Chase (1966), directed by Arthur Penn.


-Bill
I remember in an interview/commentary, Penn said he was so frustrated by the slow camera and lighting set ups for this one, the way it contributed to cast fatigue and possibly to some lackluster performances that he insisted the director of photography on his next project keep it going, no delays, set it up quickly, let's get the shot and move on. His next project was Bonnie and Clyde and the director of photography was Burnett Guffy, who won The Oscar for it.

It is possible the breezy, rollicking, natural pace and flow of Bonnie and Clyde, imo an important element of its appeal and greatness, might not have come about without Penn's experiences making The Chase.
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post #2200 of 2243 Old 03-08-2019, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
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The Admirable Crichton (1957), directed by Lewis Gilbert.

[...]

Later: Twilight Time produced a much improved Blu-ray edition and I've updated the thumbnails.

Julie Kirgo's booklet described this as Downton Abbey meets Gilligan's Island. I wish I'd thought of that.

The IMDB now has the aspect ratio as 1.75. It looks like 1.66 to me, very common in British and European films then.

Heavy grain, as in the original film, I suspect.

I showed this to a friend and he said it was either the saddest happy ending, or the happiest sad ending he had ever seen.

-Bill
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post #2201 of 2243 Old 03-21-2019, 07:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Hanover Street (1979), written and directed by Peter Hyams.

An American bomber pilot falls in love with a married English woman. By extreme coincidence her husband is a spymaster who will be going on the next mission...

This is not a well-liked film. Critics found it cliche-ridden and audiences didn't respond well to the combination of women's romance picture and behind-the-lines action story.

Its good features:

  • Harrison Ford, Lesley-Anne Down and Christopher Plummer are all attractive in their love triangle.
  • Photographed by David Watkin (Help! (1965), The Boy Friend (1971), Chariots of Fire (1981)).
  • Score by John Barry, although it is his most romantically drippy.
  • Aviation photography with period bombers.

The problems:

  • It really is two movies stapled together. Lesley-Anne Down has nothing to do in the second half but wait forlornly for her men to come back.
  • The bombers are realistic but the espionage plot is about as plausible as The Dirty Dozen (1967).
  • Harrison Ford's dopey love-sick clowning is painful. His hair is too long.
  • They try to recapture the snappy patter of the bomber crew from period films, but it just doesn't work.
  • It is true about the cliches.

I recall George MacDonald Fraser's account of the filming of Force 10 from Navarone (1978) where he said that some actors just cannot stand like soldiers. They even tried weighting his cuffs with coins to get his trousers to hang right. He doesn't give a name but I suspect he was talking about Harrison Ford.

Available on DVD.



-Bill

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post #2202 of 2243 Old 03-26-2019, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Jane Eyre (1944), directed by Robert Stevenson.

People seem to think of this as an Orson Welles picture: it has that accentuated dark look and an intense Bernard Herrmann score, just like Citizen Kane (1941). Welles did do some of the producing and I don't doubt some directing, whether anyone asked him to or not.

The story has been filmed many times. I Walked with a Zombie (1943) from that same time is called "Jane Eyre on a voodoo island". For a steamier version see Firelight (1997). Wide Sargasso Sea (1993) is a race-conscious prequel in the West Indies.

Charlotte Brontë's story contains a lot of her autobiography. She survived girl school hell where two of her younger sisters died of TB, as a girl does in the book. She worked as a governess for a while, a difficult in-between position: you are expected to be genteel but are still a servant. Be cautious around the man of the house.

We have:

  • The true-grit heroine, unafraid to speak the truth.
  • The sound stage foggy moors, simultaneous scary and exciting.
  • The governess's charge, a little girl who might as well be her daughter.
  • The brooding, domineering master of the house, bearing a secret sorrow that keeps him in constant pain and regret...
  • ...which our heroine just might be able to assuage, if only he would love her in return...
  • ...but how can that happen when she is a poor servant, competing with richly gowned society women at the ball?

This is all catnip for romance audiences and the director lays it on pretty thickly.

Watching Mr Rochester and his society fiance: have you noticed that during the Code period, a man and woman could enjoy lingering glances at the bedroom door when saying goodnight? Audience mind reading was allowed as long as the words weren't spoken: "Door's open. You coming in? That would be bold and very wrong. Let's stand here and imagine it for a while".

Cast notes:

  • Joan Fontaine (Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941)) has a magical appeal. The scene lights up when she is onscreen, something I noticed watching The Constant Nymph (1943) recently; the film is nothing special, but you can't take your eyes off her. I don't know how she does it: she somehow plays to the camera without letting us see it.
  • Orson Welles gets some grief for his acting. He said something like: I know people think I'm a big old ham-bone, but it is an older theatrical style.
  • Henry Daniell often played comically wicked characters, but as the school superintendent he is just pure humorless evil.
  • Peggy Ann Garner, age 11, is superb as young Jane, possibly the best performance in the film. At times she looks like Emma Watson, if young Hermione Granger had been neglected and starved. I remember her only as the lead in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945); she was hungry there, too.
  • Elizabeth Taylor, also age 11, uncredited in her third film. Here she is the doomed classmate at the girls school.


Score by Bernard Herrmann, photographed by George Barnes (Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), Samson and Delilah (1949)).

Available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time. The source seems rather worn.

Two commentary tracks: in the first, Nick Redman, Julie Kirgo and Herrmann biographer Steven Smith split their time between the story, the production and the composer. The second has Welles biographer Joseph McBride with inserted reminiscences by Margaret O'Brien who played Adèle at age 7.



-Bill

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post #2203 of 2243 Old 04-03-2019, 07:47 PM
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Bonjour Tristesse (1958), directed by Otto Preminger.

"Hello Sadness"....

Beautiful imagery, both in the color and B&W segments.

Twilight Time Blu-ray.



-Bill
Available now on Amazon Prime Video, watching it now. Incredible Technicolor imagery.

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post #2204 of 2243 Old 04-04-2019, 03:55 AM - Thread Starter
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The Shout (1978), directed by Jerzy Skolimowski.

A fine summer day, perfect weather for a cricket match at the mental hospital. Typically, when they are all in white uniforms it is hard to know the patients from the staff. It is a fine line between eccentric and nutty.

A patient (is he? didn't he ride up on a motorcycle?) in the scoring booth relates a tale to "Robert Graves", author of the original short story, who of course insists it is all true. The patient also says his story is true, but that he tells it differently each time.

It is about a magic man intruding into a troubled marriage in that local town. Of how souls can exist outside the body and live in stones in the dunes on the beach. Of being able to get inside dreams and manipulate people when you steal something from them. Of the "death shout" he learned when living with an Aborigine tribe in Australia.

He is an unreliable narrator; we know he is the magic man, but are the other people ones we have seen outside of the story?

This is classified as "horror", and it is in that psychological art-film sense. Made from Robert Graves' early short story, also weirdly dreamlike and metaphysically disorienting. It won an award at Cannes and was never heard of again.

Talented leads: Alan Bates, John Hurt, Susannah York. Great support from Robert Stephens and Tim Curry. Early role for Jim Broadbent who strips down to a jockstrap when a storm hits the cricket pitch.

Small part for Carol Drinkwater, best known for All Creatures Great and Small. I confess I also remember her as the nurse who got her boobs out at the end of A Clockwork Orange (1971).

Available as a region B Blu-ray from Network in the UK. The commentary track is by two film buffs who say "We're called when they can't get anyone else. We don't analyze the movies, we just footnote them".

It's an excited wide-ranging commentary with many links to careers, literature and other films. They talk about the director's work with Polanski and some of his other films, but not Deep End (1970), my favorite of his so far.



-Bill

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post #2205 of 2243 Old 04-10-2019, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Le Deuxième Souffle (1966), written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

"Second Wind".

Veteran gangster "Gu" escapes from prison and heads for Paris as we try to sort out a bunch of other characters. His devoted sister and her loyal bodyguard have just repulsed an armed attack on her bar. Gu arrives at her place just in time to take care of some other hard men trying to muscle her. "Take care of" means going for a drive and dumping their bodies in the woods, his standard method.

Gu has to either vanish or go down trying. He signs on to an armored car platinum heist which involves killing police escorts as a matter of course. It's not clear whether he thinks he has a future or not. His reputation matters to him more than survival: he is a reliable criminal and no snitch.

We are dealing with that old society of crooks and cops, people who have known each other for years. Crafty, patient Inspector Blot is after Gu. The criminals try to reassure each other: "Paris cops won't come to Marseille". Sure, tell yourself that.

This is very much the society of men, a class of hoods who own clubs but will also do heists. Some (the older ones) are reliable and trust each other, the younger ones not so much: some are police informants.

The sister is the only female character and -- contrary to standard tropes -- she is neither a femme fatale nor the weak link. She is more like one of the boys.

There are a lot of characters and the plot is probably easier to follow the second time through. Remade in 2007 with Daniel Auteuil and Monica Bellucci.

Melville is a fascinating director. He began as an amateur filmmaker, formed his own studio and produced good films from the beginning. The French cineastes first loved him and then hated him, mostly because he remained loyal to Charles de Gaulle when the president was the target of student and worker protests of the late 1960s.

It is said his interest was not so much in film noir as in the American gangster films of the 1930s and 40s. His characters drive big American cars, wear those hats, and often have .45 Colt automatics. He also made WW2 "Resistance" films, using his own experiences in the war.

I will have to try Le Samouraï (1967) again; it left me a little cold. I enjoyed Bob le Flambeur (1956) and Le Cercle Rouge (1970) and look forward to seeing others.

Available on DVD from Criterion. The useful commentary track is a team effort by a French woman and English man, both film critics and big fans.



-Bill
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post #2206 of 2243 Old 04-26-2019, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I could use some advice.

In my reviews the film title has always been a link to the IMDB as a reference in case people want to see more details.

IMDB has become irritating to the point of being unusable, with excess cruft and advertising overlays. I'd like to give up on it and use some other reference.

The good aspects of the IMDB are its exhaustive details and that they have been good at avoiding link rot. In many years of use I don't think I have had a link go bad.

There are other online databases but (1) the ones I have seen are not as good with details, (2) I don't know how long they will last, or (3) if they will suffer from link rot.

I'm thinking of just using the wikipedia for title links. Content is of variable quality and they also don't have the same amount of detail, but the articles always contain links back to the IMDB and other places.

Link rot of the main entries: unknown. They can have bad links in the articles -- that's unavoidable -- but I don't know that target pages themselves go bad.

I suspect the wikipedia will survive for some time; I don't want to redo the links on my own site.

You thoughts? PM me if you don't want to post them here.

-Bill

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post #2207 of 2243 Old 04-26-2019, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Dragonwyck (1946), written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

With a title like Dragonwyck we are expecting a gothic thriller, perhaps something from Poe. It has that look and some of those elements -- family insanity, ghostly music only they can hear -- but is more of a "new governess struggles with a difficult family" genre piece, as with Jane Eyre (1944).

Vincent Price is third billed but steals the show. His haughty aristocratic patroon -- atheist, drug addict, murderer -- is vastly more interesting than the bland good doctor, his rival. Price would do horror/thriller roles from time to time -- as with The Mad Magician (1954) -- but did not become a horror specialist until after The Fly (1958). His Byronic villain here is a remarkable preview of his Poe roles for Roger Corman in the 1960s: House of Usher (1960), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), etc.

Gene Tierney and Walter Huston are daughter and father, and young Jessica Tandy has an early role as an Irish maid.

The stars and the images are more interesting than the story itself. It does give a history lesson of the Anti-Rent War of the 1840s, when the vast Dutch land-grant feudal holdings of upstate New York were finally broken up. I knew nothing about it and I don't think any other film has treated it.

According to the wikipedia: "Gregory Peck was the first choice for Nicholas Van Ryn. Ernst Lubitsch was to direct, but became ill, pre-production was delayed, and Peck dropped out".

Music by Alfred Newman and striking photography by Arthur C. Miller.

Available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with an informative commentary track by two film scholars.



-Bill

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post #2208 of 2243 Old 04-26-2019, 08:26 AM
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I could use some advice.

In my reviews the film title has always been a link to the IMDB as a reference in case people want to see more details.
I use Wikipedia, as they are essentially benign and free from popups and ads.

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post #2209 of 2243 Old 04-26-2019, 09:15 AM
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Bill, I'd be happy with any choice, so long as it helps you continue your much appreciated work!

I use an adblocker, so IMDb doesn't annoy me at all. It's my film go-to resource, but I do use Wikipedia for music-related info.
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Bill, I'd be happy with any choice, so long as it helps you continue your much appreciated work!

I use an adblocker, so IMDb doesn't annoy me at all. It's my film go-to resource, but I do use Wikipedia for music-related info.
Yeah, I use the ad blocker builtin to Chrome, which has worked quite well with the IMDb site.
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post #2211 of 2243 Old 04-30-2019, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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High and Low (1963), directed by Akira Kurosawa.
(additional notes)

  • It begins with what seems like the fashion trivia of women's shoes, but quickly moves into corporate warfare and takeover strategies.
  • Gondo is shrewd at this type of fighting, but -- unlike his associates -- he also loves the craft and wants to make a good product.
  • He wasn't going to call the police for his own son (too dangerous) but immediately does so when it turns out the chauffeur's son has been kidnapped.
  • Note that the police ignore the chauffeur when they first arrive. It is the rich man's show.
  • His dilemma is excruciating: pay the ransom and face ruin, or don't and sacrifice his chauffeur's son. His employee is a survival of the feudal retainer into the modern low-trust age. Loyalty goes both ways, bonding the master and servant.
  • The boy becomes a pawn in the corporate power struggle. The commentary track points out that those are yakuza calling in their loans. They will take his business.
  • Gondo turns the corner when he decides to pay and for a moment seems happy when he gets out his old shoe-making tools and fits the briefcases up with tracking packets. The police begin to appreciate him.
  • Unexpectedly, after the exciting money drop from the train Gondo leaves the story for a long time and the second act is a police procedural.
  • And it is a great story! The meticulous, inventive police work, the breakthrough and then the steady closing in on the criminal. As given in Casablanca (1942): Strasser: "In this case, you have no sympathy for the fox, huh?" Rick: "Not particularly. I understand the point of view of the hound, too".
  • Something you rarely see in film: the amazing types of knowledge ordinary people have. Here the train-men recognize the line just from a recording of background noise. It is obvious to them, the song each train and track make.
  • The police let their target drift for a while so they can build the case of a more severe crime against him. They didn't intend it, but this means another murder.
  • Finally: neither Kurosawa nor the police nor the audience are particularly fond of the rich businessmen in the story. Does this ally us with the criminal? His resentment drives the whole plot.

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion. The commentary track by Stephen Prince is carried forward from the DVD. It covers a lot of ground but is particularly strong on the visual design and camera work.



-Bill
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post #2212 of 2243 Old 05-02-2019, 12:57 PM
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Quote:Originally Posted by wmcclain 

Of all the film scholars eager to talk about Vertigo, why would anyone pick William Friedkin for the commentary track? He never has anything new or valuable to say, just narrating what we see on the screen, and even then descends into gibberish sometimes. I listened to the whole damned thing; a waste of time.


Friedkin's commentaries for his own movies are the same way. Totally worthless. Plus, he sounds just like Donald Trump, which is annoying.
Working through the pages in this thread, and this exchange definitely made me laugh out loud. Certainly more context now versus 2013 (such simpler times...). Yowza!

But yeah, once again Bill, thanks so much for these reviews. I've added so many movies to my watch list.

I even broke down after some waffling and bought the Seven Days in May blu ray after seeing all the praise for the movie. Free one day delivery on Prime is apparently in effect now. Huzzah!
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post #2213 of 2243 Old 05-06-2019, 04:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Shampoo (1975), directed by Hal Ashby.

My first thought about this film is: Why did Warren Beatty want to be in it? He also produced it and shares writing credit with Robert Towne. It is not a bad film or a bad role or a bad performance, but I would think the story of a Beverly Hills hairdresser juggling several demanding women who have no respect for his refractory period would be a sensitive one for him.

Why? Because the man was legendary -- perhaps even record-breaking -- in the number of women he bedded, a comprehensive catalog of the Hollywood beautiful and famous. Whether he indulged waitresses and secretaries or stuck with an upper strata of celebrity: I do not know. I remember bitter, probably jealousy-motivated diatribes about him in print -- that he had been pumping his genetic material into the Hollywood talent for many years -- where only famous names were featured.

The character of befuddled hair-cutter is not much like hard-working and talented Beatty, but his love life has parallels to the actor's. Did he not mind? Was he trying to work out something with his reputation? Says the character: "I've never been able to say no".

Compared to other Ashby films I have reviewed -- Harold and Maude (1971), The Last Detail (1973), Coming Home (1978) -- this is lower energy soap opera. A little sad but with funny bits: the stud's apprehension of sexual exhaustion is always worth a laugh, and in a notorious scene Julie Christie becomes unrestrained in word and deed when she drinks too much at a party. Businessman Jack Warden anticipates Three's Company by comforting himself that the hairdresser must be gay.

Joining the lovely Christie are Lee Grant and Goldie Hawn, and Carrie Fisher in her film debut at age 19.

Beatty and Christie also teamed in McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) and Heaven Can Wait (1978).

Photographed by László Kovács. Paul Simon gets score credit, but most of the music is rock from 1968, when the story is set.

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion, a naturally grainy image.



-Bill
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post #2214 of 2243 Old 05-07-2019, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Night Train to Munich (1940), directed by Carol Reed.
[Additional notes and new thumbnails from the Criterion Blu-ray].

  • The march of recent history is strong in this one. In those days world events whirled toward disaster with new calamities every day.
  • We already have the evil nazi doctor character.
  • Between this and The Lady Vanishes (1938) Margaret Lockwood owned the 'menaced by nazis on a train' genre.
  • Seaside sheet-music emporium seems like a strange cover for the Secret Service. Maybe that would be smart. Did they really do things like that?
  • The original film poster had the notice: "Not suitable for general exhibition". Maybe because he spends the night in her room with a bottle of champagne? Or because their cunning plan depends on presenting her as having a certain amount of "easy virtue"?
  • Rex Harrison is rather convincing as a nazi, the way he glares through a monocle.
  • As I noted for To Be or Not to Be (1942), film-makers love the nazi uniforms.
  • As well as a double, footage of the real Adolf Hitler is used. As I write this the IMDB gives him 1010 credits for "Archive footage", a number that increases all the time. This film is #19 on the list. The only earlier appearance I am likely to see is Raoul Walsh's The Roaring Twenties (1939) with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart; it is #15. [Later: Anatole Litvak's Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) with Edward G. Robinson is also on DVD; it is #11].
  • Let's not forget how good Paul Henreid is here. One slip by Charters and Caldicott -- "I say, aren't you old Dickie Randall?" -- is all it takes. His self-satisfied menace is chilling.
  • We have action Charters and Caldicott as they run for the train, still unflustered to find themselves in a compartment full of soldiers.
  • I wonder: to what extent is Night Boat to Dublin (1946) a play on this film? "The allies plan to rescue a Swedish atomic scientist from under the noses of the Nazis". I'll have to see it now.

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion.



-Bill

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post #2215 of 2243 Old 05-10-2019, 02:01 AM
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Why didn't anyone mentioned Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd-Webber?
It's a masterpiece!
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post #2216 of 2243 Old 05-10-2019, 08:06 PM
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[Additional notes and new thumbnails from the Criterion Blu-ray].

-Bill
I think I mentioned the two characters who, along with the farmers in The Hidden Fortress, are clearly the model for C-3PO and R2-D2. They appeared in several films together playing roughly the same duo, including my all time fav, Dead of Night.

I just watched a neat interview with Jonna Mendez (her husband, Tony, was played by Ben Affleck in Argo), talking about disguises and a little about exfil espionage tradecraft.


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post #2217 of 2243 Old 05-15-2019, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Mrs. Miniver (1942), directed by William Wyler.

The middle class family looks very comfortable to our eyes and we have a half hour filled with the pleasant, trivial decencies of peacetime. These actually continue during the war with dances and courtship and a fiercely contested flower show. We don't see much in the way of rationing or domestic hardship for a while.

The war must intrude. The husband takes his boat to Dunkirk as part of the rescue flotilla, the same day the wife must contend with a desperate downed German flier. They suffer through intense air raids, damage to the house and death of a family member.

It ends with a church service, a rousing call to Christian patriotism, to join in the "people's war". They sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and we go out on Elgar's "Land of Hope and Glory" (use of which he hated in WW1).

A British home-front story made in America when the US was just getting into the war. It is instructive to compare this with Wyler's own The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) made just four years later. It was a long war, wearing down the cheerful carry-on optimism of the beginning.

Teresa Wright is in both! This was her second film.

The movie won a boat-load of Oscars. Greer Garson received best actress, which she would have won for Random Harvest (1942) had she been nominated which she wasn't because you can't be nominated for the same award twice in the same year.

I admire Wyler but I think Hawks or Capra could have done a livelier treatment of the same material, just as patriotic.

Helmut Dantine (Casablanca (1942), Edge of Darkness (1943), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)) plays the German flier, a villain who is also wounded and starving, his first credited role. Note the tiny bit of business: Mrs Miniver has his Luger and moves it behind her out of sight and reach as the police take him out, giving it to the last officer. Dantine was an anti-nazi activist and spent time in a concentration camp, so of course he got to play German baddies in the 1940s.

Photographed by Joseph Ruttenberg. Music by Herbert Stothart, where the main theme is adapted from the hymn "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past". I remember Gene Wolfe's quote in The Shadow of the Torturer: "A thousand ages in Thy sight / Are like an evening gone / Short as the watch that ends the night / Before the rising sun".

Available on Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #2218 of 2243 Old 05-15-2019, 09:11 AM
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The movie won a boat-load of Oscars. Greer Garson received best actress, which she would have won for Random Harvest (1942) had she been nominated which she wasn't because you can't be nominated for the same award twice in the same year.
According to Wikipedia: "Provided that they receive enough votes from the Academy in both categories to earn a nomination, there are no restrictions on actors being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor or actresses being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in any given year. The sole rule with regard to multiple nominations is that an actor or actress cannot receive multiple nominations for the same performance. This rule was introduced in 1944 after Barry Fitzgerald received a Best Actor nomination and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in Going My Way."

That wording is a little ambiguous. It starts out referring to actors being nominated in two categories, but then says "the sole rule with regard to multiple nominations," which makes me think that is is conceivably possible (although it's never happened yet) for an actor to get two nominations in the same category for separate roles.

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post #2219 of 2243 Old 05-15-2019, 11:05 AM
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Mrs. Miniver (1942), directed by William Wyler.

Teresa Wright is in both! This was her second film.

The movie won a boat-load of Oscars. Greer Garson received best actress, which she would have won for Random Harvest (1942) had she been nominated which she wasn't because you can't be nominated for the same award twice in the same year.
Teresa Wright, who won Best Supporting actress for Mrs. Miniver, was nominated this same year (1943) for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Pride of the Yankees. Another fun tidbit: Garson married Richard Ney, her movie son Vin, in July '43 despite (or perhaps because of) the substantial age difference. It didn't end well and the marriage lasted only a few years.

Random Harvest is a favorite of wifey and I. OTOH, she hates the very similar and well-done Waterloo Bridge as it doesn't meet her "movie endings" criteria.
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post #2220 of 2243 Old 05-17-2019, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Burn, Witch, Burn (1962), directed by Sidney Hayers.

Aka Night of the Eagle.
(New notes and thumbnails from the Kino Blu-ray).

  • The husband believes his success comes entirely from his own merit. The witch-women of the college know differently. You could work this into a little meditation on meritocracy: who gets the good things of the world, and how are they really earned?
  • The conjure magic comes from Jamaica.
  • I hadn't noticed before that among the supporting cast is Kathleen Byron, a familiar face from the Powell/Pressburger films -- A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), The Small Back Room (1949).
  • Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife was filmed three other times: Weird Woman (1944) with Lon Chaney Jr., an episode of the Moment of Fear (1960) anthology series, and Witches' Brew (1980) with Terri Garr.
  • Despite his huge bibliography, Leiber has only 10 IMDB writing credits.
  • Score by William Alwyn -- Odd Man Out (1947), A Night to Remember (1958).

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. The great Richard Matheson contributes a commentary track, maybe recorded during the laserdisc era? He wrote the first half of the screenplay.

He talks about other projects and stresses that when working from a novel he tries to be respectful of the author's work. He's gotten thank-you notes for that.

He seems only vaguely aware of who the actors are.



-Bill
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