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WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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Ann Harding
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » June 13th, 2011, 6:17 am

About Madonna of the Seven Moons, I want to quote a little excerpt from Stewart Granger's memoirs, Sparks Fly Upward (a very good read BTW):
Then there was Madonna of the Seven Moons. This time I played a Sicilian gangster, the lover of a lady (Phyllis Calvert, of course), who suffered from schizophrenia: half the time she was duchess living in splendour, the other half she was my mistress, living in squalor by making it up for it by being screwed by me. The director thought that by having my still plucked eyebrows thickened, my black hair curled, my lips painted red and by wearing pin-striped, shoulder-padded suits, I'd become a Sicilian. Wrong. I became embarrassed. To make matters worse I had to sing and accompany myself on the guitar. I sang quite well, but apparently not well enough for the producer. I was dubbed. I'm a bass. The man who dubbed me was a falsetto tenor. Oh dear. I knew I should never have signed that contract. All my serious theatre training wasted on having to play ridiculous and totally unreal characters. The fact that all those films made money, and that I had become one of Britain's top box office stars, wasn't that important to me.

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby feaito » June 13th, 2011, 8:18 am

I guess that when I watched it I was in the mood for Kistch :wink: , but it truly has been one of the most entertaining films I saw during last year, nothwistanding its implausibilities and OTT qualities, I liked it very, very much. For me it was a 100% entertaiment value. The actors did have appeal and charm because they rose above the material...and I'm ready to watch it again! :D

MikeBSG
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » June 13th, 2011, 9:32 am

I watched "The Music Box" on TCM last night with my son and daughter. We had a great time. I had seen it before; they hadn't.

It struck me that I actually like the film better once Stan and Ollie get beyond the stairs and create mayhem in the house. Ollie's exasperation with Stan (and life in general) really were perfectly timed. And Billy Gilbert as the pompous professor added so much to the film.

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 13th, 2011, 9:52 am

I defy anyone to listen to that player piano selection that Stan and Ollie dance to, and not at least tap your feet. It makes me want to get up and dance, or actually clean house. :D

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby kingrat » June 13th, 2011, 5:34 pm

[quote="JackFavell"]Did anyone happen to catch Joseph Losey's King and Country last night? Kingrat - that probably means you. :D :D

JF, you're so right. I've only watched the first half of King and Country. We're in complete agreement about Tom Courtenay and Dirk Bogarde. Courtenay is such a superb film actor that his decade-long absence from the screen, by his choice, hurts. He knows exactly how to register thought and changes of emotion. He makes full use of the little pinched smile that is one of his characteristic gestures.

Joseph Losey was a great admirer of Brecht, and for years one of his cherished projects was to film Brecht's Galileo with Charles Laughton. The use of photographs, the use of the other soldiers to make direct commentary on the main story, and the rather flat characterization of the upper classes are all Brechtian. I think the use of close-ups, which really helps the actors, has a lot to do with a low budget, as is also the case with many noirs. To me, the story is so strong that we don't need the shovel banging us on the head to let us know the director's point of view. I like Leo McKern but find his performance way over the top, which is obviously what Losey wanted in order to show the corrupt morality of the establishment. The first shot after the credits is very nice, with Courtenay on his bed and then the guard seen behind the cell door as if he is the one in prison. However, this film is really about the two lead actors, not the director, and they are superb.

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 13th, 2011, 5:48 pm

You are right, kingrat, there's really no question about how Losey views the upper classes and the military.

Bogarde and Courtenay are interesting, because both are outsiders, but in such very very different ways. Bogarde almost seems more trembly and nervous than Courtenay, who is in a daze, and not really attached to reality. I get the impression that Bogarde is going to quit after this trial, no matter the outcome.

Let me know how it all turns out. I was really enjoying this one. :D

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby kingrat » June 14th, 2011, 11:53 am

Will do, JF, but it will be next week as I'll be away from classic movies and the Internet for a few days.

After seeing Barbara Rush at the festival, I've been seeking out some of her films on TCM. She's excellent in The Young Philadelphians, a 1959 soap I enjoyed. Her character could easily come off as an upper class stereotype, but she shades her performance very well. Her line readings and expressions find a little more depth and complication than you might expect from the script. Robert Vaughn's an actor I often don't care for, but he's first-rate as the sad alcoholic with lots of lost little boy appeal. Who'd have thunk it? And Adam West as a h-h-h, no we can't actually say the word. Because for some of us he'll always be Batman, I couldn't help thinking in the scene where he's unenthusiastic about kissing his bride, "Hey, he wishes she were Robin."

A different kind of Robin: I'm also looking at Robin and the 7 Hoods as a "watch while folding the laundry" film, and it's OK for that purpose. I've enjoyed Barbara Rush's scenes as Maid Marian because she doesn't usually get to play this kind of role. Gordon Douglas' direction is awfully stodgy, though. I keep wishing Preston Sturges or Billy Wilder were directing what isn't a bad script. Comedies usually need to be closer to an allegro tempo than an adagio. I don't think Douglas knows how to use camera set-ups or editing rhythms to point the jokes.

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » June 14th, 2011, 12:12 pm

Yesterday, I watched "Red Riding 1974," a recent British neo-noir about corruption in the north of England in the Seventies. (It is the first film of a trilogy.)

I liked it. The movie was expertly done. The only drawback was (and this is my fault) the Yorkshire accents. I almost needed subtitles to follow them. It probably wouldn't have been bad in a theater, but at home with the windows open, cars driving past, etc. I really had to work.

The star of the film is Andrew Garfield, whom I had seen in "The Social Network" as the protagonist's ex-best friend. (I thought of him as the "Jedediah Leland" of "The Social Network") I am very impressed with this young actor. He was utterly convincing as an American in "Social" and he was utterly convincing as a Yorkshireman in "Red Riding." What a talented young man. I hope "spiderman" doesn't ruin him.

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Gary J. » June 14th, 2011, 12:19 pm

The script for ROBIN & 7 HOODS ran so long that they were forced to cut a Sinatra number, "I Like To Lead When I Dance."
He made a great recording of it that appeared on his album Sinatra 65.
They should of cut a half hour out of that script and allowed the music to carry the movie.

And yes, Gordon was an unimaginative workmanlike director - even though he started at Roach working
on Our Gang comedies - but by then Sinatra was only working with director's that he could buffalo.
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MichiganJ » June 14th, 2011, 1:08 pm

Tracked down another film which features Yvette Vickers, and what d'ya know, it's the one and only film directed by James Cagney! Shortcut To Hell is a remake of the Graham Greene novel, This Gun For Hire, and, except for Vickers' short but sweet (and steamy) part at the beginning, there is not much in Cagney's remake to recommend.

Cagney himself introduces the film before the opening credits, and he goes to great lengths to laud the performances of his two leads. Alas, while both Robert Ivers and Georgann Johnson give okay performances, they share zero chemistry, and while in no way fair, it's hard not comparing them to Lake and Ladd.

For his part, Cagney's direction is not terribly noteworthy. That is, except for the very opening sequence (which features Vickers, so I may be biased), and a wonderfully staged scene where Ivers gets to show off his cold-blooded killer side.

But as good as the opening scenes are, the direction and the film itself seem to follow the numbers, getting sidetracked occasionally by some really absurd plot points, and ends up being a relatively pointless remake.
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby moira finnie » June 14th, 2011, 1:33 pm

I found the streaming version of Short Cut to Hell (1957) on Netflix recently too, MichJ--and never appreciated sheer star power more after viewing this number. I was initially attracted to the movie because of Cagney and the possibility that Jim might have some staging savvy when it came to a crime film with this great a pedigree.

Cagney reportedly directed the film as a favor for producer A.C. Lyles, who was beginning his efforts to breathe life into the dying B picture racket at Paramount. According to the actor's autobiography, "We shot this updated version of Graham Greene's This Gun for Hire in just twenty days, and that was long enough for me. Directing I find a bore, I have no interest in telling other people their business."

Believe me, Jimmy, you didn't have to tell me twice! Every scene, not to mention the flat lighting, obvious use of standing sets, and the enervated acting and lackadaisical pacing all made me pine for Frank Tuttle's masterpiece and that indefinable spark of charisma that Alan Ladd projected in that film.

Poor Ms. Vickers doesn't have much of a part in Cagney's version, but I did have the fleeting feeling that Jimmy was recalling his days in much perkier material such as Blonde Crazy when he focused on Yvette's *ahem* assets for the small role as Daisy, the maid of all work in that lovely flophouse where Robert Ivers brooded his days away between jobs.

The "good news" is that Daniel Noah, a fairly obscure filmmaker, is supposed to be developing a remake of the 1942 movie for 2012. Oh. no. Say it ain't so...Oh, btw, Graham Greene's terse comment on Mr. Cagney's directorial debut in The Graham Greene Film Reader:

"Short Cut to Hell is very bad."
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Rita Hayworth » June 14th, 2011, 2:01 pm

moirafinnie wrote:"Short Cut to Hell is very bad."


I seen this movie 20 years ago in Vancouver B.C. in one of those hole in a wall theaters in the outskirts of this city and I walked away ... a bad movie indeed.

Members ... don't watch it at all. It's that bad, take Moira's reviews seriously!

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MichiganJ » June 14th, 2011, 2:57 pm

kingme wrote:
moirafinnie wrote:"Short Cut to Hell is very bad."


I seen this movie 20 years ago in Vancouver B.C. in one of those hole in a wall theaters in the outskirts of this city and I walked away ... a bad movie indeed.

Members ... don't watch it at all. It's that bad, take Moira's reviews seriously!

If it's streaming on Netflix, by all means, watch the beginning with Yvette, then move on to something better. (Attack of the Giant Leeches, perhaps? It is better.)
moirafinnie wrote:The "good news" is that Daniel Noah, a fairly obscure filmmaker, is supposed to be developing a remake of the 1942 movie for 2012.

I actually think a remake of This Gun For Hire is a good idea. You could do it period or make it modern, I'd think, pretty easily. Of course lots can go wrong, and I've never heard of Daniel Noah, but even if it turns out to be awful, it will likely bring a new audience to the Lake/Ladd film. And then we got 'em!
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby moira finnie » June 14th, 2011, 3:05 pm

Yeah, I wouldn't discourage anyone from seeing Short Cut to Hell--but if you see it after knowing what a gem This Gun for Hire is, you won't get much farther than Yvette's adjusting her stockings.

I hope you're right about the remake, MichJ. I wonder if they will cast the ubiquitous Robert Pattinson in this one? Or by the time it comes to fruition, maybe they will be looking for the "new Robert Pattinson." :x
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MichiganJ » June 14th, 2011, 3:35 pm

moirafinnie wrote: I wonder if they will cast the ubiquitous Robert Pattinson in this one?

Should I be embarrassed that I had to look up exactly who Robert Pattinson is? (He would certainly take the film in a different direction.)

How about Jake Gyllenhaal? James Franco might be interesting, too. (As long as he's not asked to act out hosting an award show.)
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