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"Fast Workers" (1933)

Postby silentscreen » March 19th, 2008, 10:36 am

I just watched my first sound film with John Gilbert with mixed emotions. First of all, it was a complete pleasure but not a complete surprise that there was nothing wrong with his voice. Of course there was nothing wrong with his voice, we all know that, but it was good to have it confirmed any way. Secondly it was nice to see Mae Clarke again, as the only film of hers that I've seen is Waterloo Bridge from the first Forbidden Hollywood set that I was gifted with my last birthday. The sad part though is to see John gamely doing his best in decidedly "B" material with a director who seems totally out of his element here and with whom Gilbert had previously done a less than stellar turn in a silent film.

The director is Tod Browning and the movie is Fast Workers(1933), one of Gilbert's last films. It has a fairly simple plot about the love lives of a group of riveters and a love triangle that develops between friends. There are flashes of humor, especially in the beginning on the work site with the New York skyline as a backdrop. The secondary actors do an excellent job too, including Robert Armstrong as "Bucker." Mae plays a less than ingenuous con woman with such ladylike grace that you can't help but like her!

Over all I enjoyed the film even if it is a little programmer, but you can see that it was the end of a wonderful stars career, and that made me sad.
"Humor is nothing less than a sense of the fitness of things." Carole Lombard


Postby jdb1 » March 19th, 2008, 12:36 pm

Thanks for the tip - I'd like to see this one, since I am the self-appointed president of the Brooklyn chapter of the New Mae Clarke Fan Club. She really was good, wasn't she?

Having been impressed by her performance in Waterloo Bridge, and knowing her only from Public Enemy, I did some research on her, which you can read about in the "People of Film" thread under "Mae Clarke, and other Forgotten Stars" if you are interested. She had a difficult time of it, but probably never gave a bad performance.

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Postby silentscreen » March 19th, 2008, 3:38 pm

How fun, I'll check out the thread! A friend of mine loaned me the movie as an early birthday treat since she knew I'd only seen Mae in "Waterloo Bridge." She also sent me Mae's oral autobiography, "Featured Player. " I'm quickly becoming a fan of Mae's! :D She is very good!
"Humor is nothing less than a sense of the fitness of things." Carole Lombard


Postby feaito » March 19th, 2008, 4:53 pm

Since my kid sister (she's 16 years my junior) is a big fan of Jane Austen I had made a point of watching "Becoming Jane" (2007) with her, so I booked the small projection room of the building I live in and we watched the DVD, with all its extras.

In spite of the liberties taken by the adaptators of the story, she liked it and was truly moved when the film ended. I think that the attention to period detail (notwithstanding that the young Jane wore empire cut dresses circa 1795) was very fine and I liked the movie in all.

Anne Hathaway's performance is spirited. I liked the fact that she made a lot of research for potraying Miss Austen. I did not know that when she attended Vassar she made her thesis on her (all this I learnt after watching the DVD's Bonuses).

James McAvoy has good chemistry with Miss Hathaway; I'd like to see his performance in "Atonement" (2007) opposite the lovely Keira Knightley.

Excellent supporting cast.

In the morning I watched Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" (2007), an excellent film set in China circa 1938-1942. Impressive performances, an engrossing story (in spite of the film's length -over 2:30 hours-), a disturbing character study, superbly acted by Tony Leung and the young Chinese actress Wei Tang.

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Postby silentscreen » March 19th, 2008, 6:06 pm

I love Jane Austen! I'm glad she's going through a revival! Good, strong women roles!

"Humor is nothing less than a sense of the fitness of things." Carole Lombard

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Re: "Fast Workers" (1933)

Postby Jezebel38 » March 19th, 2008, 8:28 pm

silentscreen wrote:The director is Tod Browning and the movie is Fast Workers(1933), Over all I enjoyed the film even if it is a little programmer, but you can see that it was the end of a wonderful stars career, and that made me sad.

Just thought I'd chime in here, and perhaps a little sexist, but I remember this film as the one where John Gilbert takes his shirt off. I keep a mental list of the films where my favorite gents appear this way. :)

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Postby silentscreen » March 19th, 2008, 10:20 pm

LOL! Yes, I remember that scene.
"Humor is nothing less than a sense of the fitness of things." Carole Lombard

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Postby Bogie » March 20th, 2008, 1:01 pm

I saw The Caine Mutiny (1954) last night. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was in color as I had only seen snippets of it on The Channel That Should not be Named and it was in B/W!

Anyways what an amazingly good film. The acting of Captain Queeg's officers who eventually mutinied (Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray and Robert Francis) was fantastic. I especially enjoyed MacMurray's character as he started out as a somewhat bitter but friendly guy who was into novel writing and literature. As the movie progresses you see the true side to him which I won't reveal to others in case they've never seen it but to see the true nature of that character was interesting and MacMurray pulled it off wonderfully. Johnson was pretty good in his role and Francis was acceptable. In fact, in some scenes he reminded me of Matt Damon when he was younger.

Humphrey Bogart....Well what can more praise do to my favourite actor of all time? Seriously, he was great and it was a slightly different role for him as his character had some skeletons/psychiatric ticks to him. I especially liked his first scene with all his officers where he seems like a capable and normal by the books sea captain. Looking at that scene made me think he would've taken on some senior command type roles if he lived longer.

The defense lawyer (Jose Ferrer) and prosecutor (EG Marshal) during the court martial portion of the film were quite good. Again I don't want to spoil things for those who didn't see it but the last scene with Ferrer was fantastic as he lays out his disgust in having to defend Van Johnson's Steve Maryk character and in general the three mutineers. The very last image of Fred MacMurray in this movie is priceless as well!

That being said, the movie had a couple weaknesses

1) Max Steiner went overboard on the music. I realize you need a lot of military sounding music in movies like this but there's just TOO much music in the movie! Hell, there's even an earlyish scene in the movie where MacMurray and Francis are talking and it's literally drowned out by the music!

2) The female characters.....Francis' Girlfriend in the movie May Wynn (more or less playing herself) was well cringe worthy. The section where he's on leave with her in San Francisco was dull, boring and hard to watch. Also let's not forget his mother played by Katherine Warren. OMG! I'm surprised he's even in the Navy with such an overbearing, overprotective mother. I kept thinking to myself "Gee he must've been literally caged up in his crib as a baby". It was a thankless and mind numbingly stupid role.

Overall I give this movie a 7 out of 10

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Postby Bogie » March 20th, 2008, 1:04 pm

I also saw a bit of Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty ('62) started off well enough but once they got to Tahiti and the whole overlong fishing scene and the dancing girls and Brando seducing one of them etc etc...Let's just say it just fizzled out from there and I quit it. The script could've definitely have used some pruning IMO.

It looked like a darn good movie up to that point though and it was quite lavish. I think I prefer Laughton's Captain Bligh to Trevor Howard's.

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Postby mrsl » March 20th, 2008, 3:35 pm


I am not a big fan of Charles Laughton, Gable, or Franchot Tone, but IMO their version of MOTB has no comparison with the later Brando version, and that opinion has nothing to do with my contempt for Brando. No amount of color or scenery can make the latter version more palatable. Well, the scenery in color was magnificent, but the acting, direction, and extra perks do not add to the show at all.

BTW, I continued scrolling down the cast list and found David Niven and Jimmy Cagney listed as uncredited extras!


* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *


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Postby ken123 » March 20th, 2008, 5:26 pm

In the 1970's I purchased a monie book called The Celluloid Muse which was a seried of interviews with directors from Hollywood's Golden Age . Lewis Milestone,All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice & Men, and The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers, among others discussed Brando & Mutiny on the Bounty . Milestpn'e opinion of Brando was that he was the most unprofessional actor that the director had ever worked with, Milestone eventually read the newspaper and let Marlon direct ! :wink:

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Postby moira finnie » March 20th, 2008, 6:39 pm

I watched a bit of the Brando Mutiny on the Bounty, in particular a scene at the captain's table when Trevor Howard explains the fine difference between "cruelty and cruelty with a point" when dealing with the average "wife beating, rum swilling, authority defying seaman" who's just been ordered to climb aloft on an ice encrusted mast to act as lookout. Howard as Bligh gave me a chill as the old salt's logic, with his common sense sadism, completely stole the scene from Brando, who elaborately kept folding and refolding a napkin in an obvious effort to deflect attention. At the end of the scene I believed that, like it or not, a man like Bligh, who understood how to inflict fear and therefore obedience on a crew, was a survivor. Brilliant, good, hardworking actor that Trevor. Oh, and thank God he played Bligh without the beetling brows adopted by Laughton, who was otherwise brilliant in the part too.
Trevor Howard, looking as though he's thinking of some new object lessons in seafaring discipline for his men.
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Postby charliechaplinfan » March 21st, 2008, 7:16 am

I've adored many of Marlon's films but I couldn't begin to get through Mutiny on the Bounty.

Marlon continues to thrill me as an actor and annoy me as a star in equal measure.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin


Postby feaito » March 21st, 2008, 10:36 am

Yesterday I watched two films:

"Adventure in Manhattan" (1936), starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Reginald Owen and Thomas Mitchell. I did not expect much due to the lackluster reviews at, but enjoyed the film immensely. I found it superb! What can I say? Maybe the plot is rather implausible, but if you just watch the film and suspend all disbelief, as some reviewer said, you'll have a field day. Jean Arthur is delicious as usual and looks beautiful. Miss Arthur does have a lot of chemistry with Joel McCrea (predating the masterpiece "The More the Merrier") and in spite that McCrea plays a rather conceited and full of himself character I liked him very much. Reginald Owen is magnificent as the suave crook and Thomas Micthell very good as the Editor. For me at least, a must-see.

"A Man to Remember" (1938). Truly a re-discovered classic gem. Cleverly montaged, beautifully acted, especially by the lead Edward Ellis and poignant with a capital "P". I was deeply moved by this beautiful movie, by the end -I could not help it. The film tackles many social issues and takes a timeless stand against selfishness, self-righteouness and capitalism. Magnificent script adaptation by Dalton Trumbo. Now, I'll have to check "One Man's Journey" (1933)


Postby jdb1 » March 21st, 2008, 1:52 pm

Off from work today, and I had the pleasure of seeing the 1933 The Prizefighter and the Lady, starring Max Baer and Myrna Loy. I started watching strictly out of curiosity, but I kept watching because it was surprisingly good.

Baer was not bad at all. In fact, the film also featured quite a few boxing greats of the day (and of the day not too long before it), including Jack Dempsey in a minor speaking role, and the unbelievably huge Primo Carnera. I'm not a big fan of Myrna Loy, but I liked her a lot in this.

She plays the girlfriend of a gangster/nighclub owner, played by the excellent Otto Kruger. She meets, falls for and marries Baer, a up and coming fighter managed by Walter Huston. I was also surprised that Baer's character wasn't entirely admirable: as he gets more successful and popular, he becomes egotistical and something of a womanizer, hurting poor Myrna and infuriating her jealous but loyal ex-boyfriend Kruger. At one point Myrna leaves her philandering husband and goes back to Kruger, but in the end, after Baer's big fight with Carnera, she realizes he's the man for her and returns to him.

That big fight scene at the end, with Dempsey refereeing, was pretty tame by today's standards, and much too long, too. (Direction was by W.S. Van Dyke) A very entertaining sequence was Baer's foray into show business as he becomes more famous. He takes an act on the road, wherein he sings, taps and does gymnastics, accompanied by a group of very athletic girl dancers. It was pretty hokey, maybe on purpose, and Baer looks game but self-conscious. He and the girls appear to be singing live, not on playback, and he does a little tapdance, light on his feet, as you would expect of a champion boxer.

This was a good one, better than you would expect, and worth at least one viewing.

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