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Posted: August 10th, 2008, 11:43 am
One of my favorite Susan Hayward roles. She and Heston had real chemistry I thought, and the whole movie, as you said was never dull. I love the part where he catches her smoking his pipe. People were pretty mean to her. I thought he was made up really well too, compared to the pictures I've seen of old Stonewall.
Posted: August 10th, 2008, 11:46 am
I agree Anne. I wonder why this small picture is not better known today. It's much more entertaining and touching than many other overblown biopics that were made back then.
Posted: August 10th, 2008, 8:10 pm
Just finished watching "Blithe Spirit" (1945) thanks to Ollie. I had seen this one many years ago on Bravo's Film & Arts Channel, but I did not recall much and I experienced it like a "first time". The print's in very fine condition and the hilarious pacing is superb! The cast is flawless. And Connie Cummings did not seem having aged a bit since 1932's "Night After Night" (1932). I have never seen Kay Hammond in anything else and she's wonderfully mischievous as Rex Harrison's ghostly first wife. The risqué implications of having two wives under the same roof and Rex's amusement at it is priceless. Maggie Rutherford plays the role of the eccentric, outlandish medium with such skill! Pure laughter! No doubt she was one of Britain's most gifted comediennes. An unforgettable experience and the proof of David Lean's tremendous talent, both at comedy and at human drama, who in the same year gaves us two masterpieces in those genres ("Blithe Spirit" and "Brief Encounter").
Posted: August 11th, 2008, 9:51 pm
Today I finished watching Mitchell Leisen's "Golden Earrings" (1947), a very good action, espionage thriller starring Ray Milland, who plays a stiff-upper-lip British Officer and alluring Marlene Dietrich, as a very earthy, passionate gipsy. The films is told via flashback and its main portion is set before WWII in Germany.
This film is truly a discovery and my wife and I had an excellent time watching it. It's very well done and never loses momentum, except for the rather flat, abrupt ending. The ending seems somewhat artificial and rather "forced".
I was surprised to see that in a certain way the gipsies and Marlene as one of them, were depicted in a rather natural, de-glamourized way. On the opposite side, I think of the lush, highly glamorized, exotic fantasies of the 1940s and 1950s; Paramount might have well fallen into the temptation of showing the gipsy camp and Marlene in a more favorable, glamorous layout. But instead with the exception of the elaborate make-up she wears on her eyes, she's shown in a rather honest fashion: eating with her hands, spitting, etc. Murvyn Vye is very believable as the master of the gipsies and has strong physical presence and an impressive voice. I did not know that the song of the film became a hit by Peggy Lee.
Milland and Marlene have fine chemistry and she plays her scenes with him most ardently. It's hard to believe that they quarrelled all through the production and that she loathed him. I seem to recall that I read that she said that he stank! That does not show on screen and that speaks well of both as professionals.
A commendable photoplay marred by an artificial ending.
Posted: August 12th, 2008, 7:37 pm
Great review of an often overlooked movie!
According to Milland's biography, though, it was he who claimed that she had the body odor issue, but that he only found it really offensive when she persisted in trying to corner him romantically off-camera. Evidently, Marlene excused her eccentricities as her compulsion to stay in character 24/ 7; Ray was purportedly buying none of it, and claimed that he hid-out in his trailer between shoots, and couldn't get away fast enough once Earrings wrapped.
Still, whether that's all true, false or exaggerated, Golden Earrings is always a treat to watch, and despite straddling genres as it does, never falls prey to formula - including the sparkling portrayal of romance between the star-crost lovers . . hollow though it might have felt for the leading man!
Posted: August 12th, 2008, 8:12 pm
Thanks Klondike. And thanks too for all this further info. It seems both stars were very temperamental, especially La Dietrich!
Posted: August 12th, 2008, 9:16 pm
This is why I love this place. A film I've never heard of is now on my list. Keep 'em coming.
Posted: August 14th, 2008, 3:21 pm
I saw I'm Not There, the surreal Bob Dylan biopic. It was quite fascinating, and not all that bad. I had expected to either love it or hate it, but I find myself a bit in the middle.
You have to be a real fan of Bob Dylan's work, to really know the songs, to be able to get all the references made here. I got some of them. It helped me to have viewed the documentary No Direction Home, and to have read Dylan's autobiography, so that I at least knew something about the way his career in the limelight had progressed, since this film deals a lot with what kind of an image Dylan has had throughout the years. Since No Direction Home in particular focuses a lot on Dylan's earlier career, there were other parts of I'm Not There, dealing with his later life, that didn't quite click together for me. And I don't yet know all the songs that are referenced to in this film inside out, so a large chunk of it flew way over my head. I'm Not There is nothing like Walk The Line, which can be used as an introduction to Johnny Cash's music. That's okay for me, because I didn't expect it to make complete sense to me right away. It's surreal.
I think it's mostly aimed at people of my dad's generation, fans who have followed Dylan from the start. Dad is the resident Dylan expert here, and it was fun to watch this film with him. I'm only a fledgling Dylan fan, but I'm working my way forward.
My main problem with I'm Not There is that it tries too many things, it mixes too many stories together, and eventually the whole film feels scattered because of that. It goes on for too long, and it gets more and more confusing. And, some actors like Christian Bale and Heath Ledger don't have much to do with Dylan to me. They just seem the wrong types.
Cate Blanchett, on the other hand. I can't even begin to describe her brilliance. She's the one who is the most like the Dylan I know and love. To put it simply, you forget that she is a she. To my surprise I liked Richard Gere too, his segment was rather like one of the more surreal Dylan songs.
I am grateful for that they did something original for this original and genius songwriter, that they actually tried to capture the essence of what his songs and his persona is all about, instead of focusing on the sex, drugs and rock & roll bit. Someone actually had the idea to treat a creative person's life in a creative way. If they succeeded or not... some parts of the movie succeeded for me, and as for the rest, I'll have to discover more of Dylan before I can say.
Posted: August 14th, 2008, 3:50 pm
Since we last spoke I've seen Good Day for a Hanging which starred Fred MacMurray. Interesting little oater. It's basically a reworked High Noon without the punch of the latter film.
I read on here that MacMurray never looked totally comfortable in a western setting and I have to agree with that after watching the movie. He did a pretty good job but he just didn't seem right y'know what I mean?
Anyways the story is about a newly appointed marshal after the first was killed in a gunfight as they were chasing bank robbers. Well one of the robbers (played well by a young Robert Vaughn) happens to be a childhood sweetheart of MacMurray's daughter. MacMurray basically wants the guy to hang because Vaughn killed the marshal.
The townspeople come to believe that MacMurray has blood lust and wants to get his first "kill" in as marshal. There are a lot of scenes where he and his daughter argue about it and she even tries to help Vaughn escape late in the movie.
As far as routine studio pictures go this was a pretty good one with some good acting from all involved especially the oily defense lawyer who wants to become governor of the state.
2 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Posted: August 14th, 2008, 9:47 pm
I watched this today and agree with your assessment. I mentioned over in the thread about Fred that two things bothered me a little. One was the music sounded like it was recycled from "3:10 to Yuma" and the other was Fred's living room looked like it had been rearranged to resemble his fiance's work area in her home. The front door was the same as was some of the trim.
I also taped "Face of A Fugitive" for future viewing.
Posted: August 17th, 2008, 2:53 pm
I plan to watch a ton of movies this week so I better document what I watched today:
Sean Connery in a western? As odd as it may seem it actually happened. This movie was done during Connery's break from Bond and all I can say is it's a lot better then some of the dreck he did in the '70s before he reclaimed his star status in the '80s.
It's a fairly by the numbers movie but the unique thing about it is that it has to do with a European hunting party out in the desert who are led onto reservation land by their scout Fulton. (Stephen Boyd)
The movie opens up with Connery roughing it as Shalako Carlin, a former army man who's now a wanderer in the west as he's riding out he spots a woman and man being attacked by Apaches. Shalako then gets into a shootout with the Indians along with the lady who turns out to be a countess. (played by Brigitte Bardot) They let one of the Indians go and soon the leader of the pack greets them. He bargains with Shalako to get the hunting party off the reservation land by sundown.
Shalako and the Countess goes to the camp and tries to persuade the others to leave but they all laugh at the thought of kowtowing to "savages". The head of the party a Baron Von Hallstatt proves to be the most stubborn of the group and even chafes at the idea of Shalako storing supplies and ammunition in a safe area to attack the Indians since they all refuse to leave.
At this point in the movie there's a bit of a soap operatic element that I didn't care for too much. Apparently the wife of one of the group is lovers with Fulton which plays a part in the story a little later on. The husband is played by Jack Hawkins who is inexplicably dubbed over! This gives his performance a bad quality.
Anywho, the Indians attack and after the confusion of all that Fulton holds up the camp, destroys all the supplies, wagons etc etc and takes off with valuable jewelry along with Hawkins' wife.
Shalako comes back to the scene and sees everyone in this predicament. He decides to help them and lead them on foot out of the reservation land. Can a bunch of flighty Europeans make it in the rough desert frontier? You'll just have to see for yourself.
Personally I found it hard as hell to believe Sean Connery in this role but as the movie rolled on I learned to live with it. Apparently the role was originally offered up to Henry Fonda who I think may have been better suited for the part. Nonetheless this was the furthest thing from Bond as Connery could get and is probably the main reason he took the part.
Bardot was WAAAY too dolled up for the part especially after the hunting party is left to fend for themselves as they head out of reservation land. It bordered on the ridiculous in my opinion and she had the look of a china doll. It was too jarring for me. I also didn't like the accent she used (don't know if that's her natural one) but she just didn't sound good either. Her character and Connery's strike up a relationship in the movie that was believable but again the difference of a rough and tumble guy like Shalako being with an uber doll like her was stretching my disbelief.
The ensemble who make up the hunting party were pretty good. Alexander Knox was charming as the former senator who was once very close to becoming Vice President of the United States. There's a scene where he's seemingly boring everyone with his life story but it was an engaging scene. The Baron played by Peter van Eyck was quite good. I thought Van Eyck captured the upper crust English superiority attitude quite well. I especially liked seeing him breaking down due to the circumstances everyone found themselves in mainly due to his stubbornness.
Stephen Boyd did a great job as Fulton. He had that rattlesnake charm that is needed in a villain. I wouldn't say that he was so much a bad guy but he was looking out for himself without regard for the others. Late in the movie he ends up coming back to the hunting party to join them for reasons I won't explain. In the end the Fulton character gets what he deserves.
Overall I thought the movie was pretty good. If there's one aspect where they dropped the ball on it was on the Shalako/Indian leader's son (named Chato played by Woody Strode) relationship. It seemed that Shalako and Chato had a history together and were rivals. I wish that was played up a bit more as it would've made the ending to the movie a little more dramatic. As it is though, it came off a bit flat.
All in all it's a fairly enjoyable, if somewhat predictable film but the scenery and the action scenes push it up to 3 out of 5 stars alone.
Posted: August 18th, 2008, 8:43 am
On Saturday, on the Fox Network, I saw a portion of a movie called The Lure of the Wild (1952). This is a minor programmer, but it had several interesting aspects.
First, it had my all-time favorite actor, Walter Brennan, who played a Georgia swamprat on the lam from the law. Walter was pretty rugged and macho here, at one point even wrestling a rubber aligator! Then there was Jeffrey Hunter, who I am willing to sit through just about anything to look at. Here he sported that brown shoe-polish makeup Hollywood was so fond of in the 50s, I suppose to make his eyes look even bluer, and his hair was black and all teased up into a fetching bouffant. I think the idea was to make him look like a young Henry Fonda, which he did.
Lastly, there was Jean Peters as Walter's pretty swamprat daughter. This is what kept me watching the film longer than I should have, because she was so sweet, virginal, cute, etc., in stark contrast to her tawrdy appearance and brash performance in Pickup on South Street, which had aired only the week before on TCM. Pickup was made in 1953. What a difference a year makes.
The movie itself had little else to recommend it.
Posted: August 19th, 2008, 2:09 am
Yesterday I saw two pictures which could not have been more different! First, I watched Mission to Moscow
(1943) by M. Curtiz with Walter Huston, Ann Harding and Eleanor Parker. This was a very topical propaganda picture when America joined forces with USSR to combat Hitler. As a result, the script is loaded with inaccuracies like the Staline purges being presented as genuine prosecutions of spys... I was drawn to watch it because of its incredible cast, and above all, Walter Huston whom I adore. The film is really a big propaganda piece, a bit heavy to digest at times. But, there are some interesting performances in it like Belgian actor Victor Francen playing a Russian prosecutor with a fake Russian accent!
But, the actor (Dudley Field Malone) who played Winston Churchill did a very good impersonation of the British PM. Walter is great, as usual, playing the American ambassador in Soviet Russia. But frankly none of the actors can really create a character as the film is just skewed towards its message. But one can mention Bert Glennon for its superb cinematography.
After this heavy piece, I watched Claude Berri's Le Vieil Homme et l'Enfant
(the two of us, 1967) with Michel Simon. This lovely picture takes place during the German Occupation in France in 1943-44. A young Jewish boy is placed by his parents with an old couple in the countryside. The old man (M. Simon) turns out to be an anti-semite, but, unaware, that the boy is Jewish, a deep affection develops between them. Michel Simon gives one of his wonderful performances as a gruff old man with a golden heart. The young boy is delightfully played by Alain Cohen. The film was based on the childhood memories of the director. An excellent picture (available from criterion).
Posted: August 19th, 2008, 4:23 am
Those sound like very interesting movies, Annharding. Propaganda is difficult to watch, but it can also educational. The last film sounds great, though!
I saw Bobby, a recent movie about the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968. It's an okay film. I'm sorry this following review is going to seen distracted. I still don't know what to think.
Bobby tried hard to establish an atmosphere of the time, and sometimes it worked, while sometimes it seemed a bit anachronistic and difficult to believe. My impression of the movie was, that it was very heavy-handed in getting its anti-war message across at first, but that it got better . The Lindsay Lohan sequences in particular could have been better in the beginning. What she said to her hair dresser about the war didn't ring very true to me, it didn't sound like something that woman would say, but then again, since I can't point out exactly what was wrong with it, that could just be her acting. And Laurence Fishburn's character. What was he going on about? He turned a discussion about race relations into an analogy about pie baking, and then never explained what on earth he meant. He just seemed pretty spaced out overall.
I think the film's message was sympathetic though, and it was humanistic in its depictions of the people at the hotel. Even the racist boss played by Christian Slater was shown to be a human being, while his superior, who took the moral high ground, was shown to be a flawed person too. It was believable that way. Nick Cannon was moving as the young idealist who was bound to become disillusioned when Kennedy was shot.
He was one of the few people who actually had something to do with Kennedy though, a lot of the other people who lived in the hotel were just resolving their personal issues. The assassination ended up solving many of their conflicts. It turned into the catastrophe that brought them together.
This movie also really glorified Robert Kennedy. I don't know much about him as a person, but I'm naturally suspicious of movies that depict politicians that way, as some sort of martyrs. On the other hand, the film could just have been capturing the way Kennedy was viewed by many of his supporters, which might be another tie to the election now. There are many ties to modern events in Bobby, with the war, the immigration and other questions. That way Bobby is successful at making history relevant.
In the end my family has one issue with this film. My mother thinks they shouldn't have shown Kennedy actually getting shot. They shouldn't have shown so much of the blood, for example. She said that that kind of violence on film will inevitably inspire other nuts to try the same thing. My dad claims that if movies don't inspire the nuts, then other things will set them off instead, so it doesn't matter. I don't know. Thoughts, anyone?
Posted: August 19th, 2008, 7:06 pm
As much as I love Barbara Stanwyck, since I've been up and watching TV since 5:00 this a.m., finally around 5:00 p.m. I had to change up a little. I looked through my copied list on my tivo thing and called up 84 Charring Cross Road.
I have loved this movie since I first saw it around 1989 and have rewatched so many times, I've lost count. I'm not big on European history but by watching movies like Pride and Prejudice, I caught onto a couple of remarks made by Anne Bancroft that flew over my head before. Also, when they ran a clip of Brief Encounter - ha, ha, I knew that movie!!!
It's a simple little story of an American script writer who loves English literature but cannot find enough used book stores in N.Y. to fill her desires, she writes to a little shop in London, circa 1949 and starts up a written correspondence with the manager of the shop. As the movie progresses, she becomes acquainted with the entire staff, and the managers' wife and continues correspondence with all of them through to 1969. The three main stars are Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, and Judi Dench as his wife. Its a really entertaining little movie and I definitely recommend it for just about everybody. It's relatively new (1987) but has the feel of a classic because they are pretty good with the clothing, scenery, and historical points. The good thing is, they present those points in cheerful ways (e.g. Elizabeth II coronation, University sit-ins, etc.).
All I can say is, try it, you'll like it.