RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS BLOG

                                                                                    

Dan L. Miller 2mb copy

Rare, Seldom-Seen and Classic Movie Recommendations Blog.jpg

Rare, Seldom-Seen and Classic Movie Recommendations Blog

I watch movies every day because movies significantly enhance the quality of my life. I enjoy popular movies, award-winning movies, classic movies, and various genres. I find particular pleasure, however, in discovering rare, seldom-seen and classic movies that engage me and leave me with that satisfying feeling of having shared a beautiful artistic moment with those who created the film. Although I view some modern seldom-seen movies, I focus more on rare and seldom-seen movies from the Silent Era, the Pre-Code Era, and the Thirties.

I consider rare movies to be those that are difficult to find or that may be prohibitively expensive. The 1962 French movie Thérèse Desqueyroux, Abel Gance’s Napoleon from 1927, and Disney’s Song of the South are rare because they are, generally, unavailable in the United States in a format that is playable on U.S. DVD players. Seldom-seen movies, on the other hand, are movies that are readily obtainable but are seldom viewed.

Many movie viewers don’t realize the fine quality and artistic importance of rare and seldom-seen movies. One can have an incredibly moving experience discovering and watching movies that people seldom see.

I endeavor in this blog to write short opinions of rare movies, classic movies, silent movies, and seldom-seen movies to point movie viewers to films I know they would appreciate and enjoy and to point out rare and seldom-seen movies that viewers should avoid because of poor quality or boring content. I include in each entry the movie title, year of release, and stars. I devote just a few words to the plot because viewers can easily access detailed synopses and reviews on such sites at IMDB.COM and AMAZON.COM. I provide a few sentences of opinion on the movie and then finish with my recommendation and a link to the movie on IMDB.COM. If I indicate a movie is a must see movie, I am confident anyone watching this movie will find the experience gratifying.

I record most recent posts first and include posts from previous years in archive PDFs.

Where does one find rare and seldom-seen movies?  AMAZON.COM sells most of the seldom-seen movies, and many are very inexpensive if one buys used DVDs. In some cases, seldom-seen movies are not for sale in the United States. In these cases, search the internet to find the movies for sale from foreign vendors. The cost of foreign-purchased movies is, in most cases, not much more expensive than movies purchased in the United States. (Carefully check the regional code for foreign movies, however, because some may not play on U.S. DVD players. In these cases one can use computer software to recode the movie.)

A free source of seldom-seen-movies is the public library. One can request nearly any movie through the local library’s interlibrary loan process. The library can obtain at no charge any movie located in one’s state. For a small fee, the library can obtain any movie cataloged in the United States. One can also find seldom-seen-movies on the American Movie Classics (AMC) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable channels. Their web sites list schedules of movies. Another source for viewing rare and seldom-seen movies is the website archive.org/index.php. One can watch online movies on the site or download movie files of videos in the public domain. There are also links on the IMDB.COM website for viewing movies in the public domain.

I strongly encourage those interested in movies to explore rare and seldom-seen movies because the viewing experience can be rewarding and enjoyable. Take a break from popular movies and discover movie-making geniuses from the past and movies featuring stars who deliver astounding performances.

Page Divider 1

MOVIE QUOTATIONS

Because I appreciate movies, I begin my blog with quotations that demonstrate the importance of movies in our culture and the enjoyment one can get from viewing films. I also present a voluminous collection of film quotations on the Best Quotes for English Teachers and Students page of my website.

———————————————————————–

The films made in the first half of the 20th century are in many ways superior to the films being made now. It wasn’t an industry forced by bankers and investors to pander to 18-year-olds. A film now has to fill vast numbers of seats. Studios have to show huge profits to the multinational corporations that own them. Not exactly like the old days of classic Hollywood.

–Mike Disa

The movie is the imagination of mankind in action.

 –Gilbert Seldes

I always liked movies…they were Milk Duds for the soul.

–Joe Queenan

The moving picture is beautiful; the moving wind in the trees is more beautiful than a painting.

–D. W. Giffith

All life’s riddles are answered in the movies.

–Steve Martin

The cinema has no boundaries. It is a ribbon of dreams.

–Orson Welles

There are more valid facts and details in works of art than there are in history books.

–Charlie Chaplin

How can a serious, passionate artist not make film? It’s the most important art form ever created.

–Mike Disa

Through the magic of motion pictures, someone who’s never left Peoria knows the softness of a Paris spring, the color of a Nile sunset, the sorts of vegetation one will find along the upper Amazon and that Big Ben has not yet gone digital.

–Vincent Canby

Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union.

–Sam Goldwyn

We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds—not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.

–Roger Ebert

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.

–Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Film is the only really vital American art form right now. It’s a unifying, worldwide, powerful art form that’s unique in human history.

–Mike Disa

If I can make them laugh and through that laughter make this world seem just a little brighter, then I am satisfied.

–W. C. Fields

When a movie transports me in an emotional way, it inspires my imagination or my intellect. I love to lose myself in the characters or the world the director is creating. It’s rare and wonderful.

–Ron Howard

Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream, it takes over as the number one hormone; it bosses the enzymes; directs the pineal gland; plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to film is more film.

—Frank Capra

One can be sad, alone, detached from family and friends, and the movies can fill a void. Film can provide one for a short period of time with an intimate relationship with characters who fully participate in all aspects of life. One becomes absorbed in a film and vicariously experiences life through characters created by gifted artists.

–Dan L. Miller

Television and film are our libraries now. Our history books.

—David Strathairn

The carpeted, gilt-adorned palace interior of the theater, where in the darkness you find two seats, whisper a remark or two, and go lifting, speeding into the great moving magic of the silver screen which pulls all into itself, lulling with the magnetic other-worldliness all who sit in adoration before it. The collection is taken discreetly at the door by the gaunt, gray-haired man in the scarlet uniform with the crust of gold braid, and the worshipers are ushered to their cushioned pews in reverent darkness. No matter if they are late; the service is continuous, and if the beginning of the first mass is missed, one may stay through the beginning of the second to achieve full continuity. In the democratic twilight, the clothes of the patrons are not in evidence. If Mrs. Allan’s hat is out of taste, if Mac the cabdriver snores through the dull first lesson or the news reel, if Mamie and Joe nuzzle each other playfully, fondly in response to the sermon of a screen kiss, there is no one to be censorious, no one who really minds. For this is the altar at which more Americans spend their time and money, daily, nightly than ever before. Here the mystic incense of the traditional popcorn, chewing gum and chocolate, of mixed perfume and whiskey smells is neutralized and cooled by the patented air-conditioning system. And here people can lose their identity in a splurge of altruism before the twentieth century god. His messengers, his missionaries are everywhere. Dark in the room above your heads, one runs the machine; reel after vibrating reel of divine life circles under his directions onto the mammoth screen, playing forth the drama, the life force, the Bible of the masses. Rave notices are circulated in the newspapers. Everybody reads them. Sex and slaughter are substituted for the sin and sulphur of the pulpits, now quite antiquated. Instead of watching a man dictate manners and morals, you watch the very workings of these manners and morals in an artificially constructed society which to you, is real. Which, to all the worshipers, is the most wonderful and temporary reality they could every hope to know.

–Sylvia Plath

Page Divider 1

ARCHIVES FOR

RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS

2016 Posts

 

Page Divider 1

RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS

 

RARE, SELDOM-SEEN, AND CLASSIC MOVIES

OCTOBER, 2018 POST

Teresa (1951) Pier AngeliJohn EricsonPatricia Collinge, Peggy Ann Garner, Ralph Meeker, Bill Mauldin, Rod Steiger

During his time in WWII Philip acts not as a soldier but as a coward. He does, however, meet, fall in love with, and marry an Italian teen. After the war, when the newlyweds settle into his parents’ apartment, Philip again has to deal with his issues as a failure. This film is one of those ‘hidden gems’ that no one has heard of but everyone must see. It’s three films in one: a psychological drama, a war story, and a romance. Acting is solid all around. Pier Angeli is so young in this film that she has some weak acting moments, but overall she gives a sweet, tender performance. There’s a lot of tension and conflict in this film as well as soft, romantic scenes. This is a solid film I would rate as must see viewing. IMDB: Teresa

Anything Goes (1936) Bing CrosbyEthel MermanCharles Ruggles, Ida Lupino, Arthur Treacher, Margaret Dumont

Billy Crocker falls in love with a beautiful blonde and follows her onto a cruise ship where he develops conflicted relationships with show girls and crooks. A silly plot covers for the production numbers and Cole Porter songs, which are the highlights of this film. Ethel Merman does most of the singing, and, although she has a powerful voice, you have to be a fan to appreciate her renditions of Porter’s songs. Entertainment value is modest in this film, and I’d recommend viewing only if you’re a fan of one of the actors or if you want to see Crosby and Merman’s renditions of Porter songs from the 30s. IMDB: Anything Goes

Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) Richard BenjaminFrank LangellaCarrie Snodgress, Alice Cooper

Imagine the worst husband on the face of the Earth—rude, demeaning, selfish, cruel and totally clueless to any need his wife might have. Pretty, sweet, unassuming Tina is married to this monster—plus, she’s a mother to two bratty little girls. She floats zombie-like through her existence desperately hoping for some normalcy and affection in her life. This film is an interesting psychological drama with excellent acting. Some of the scenes are cringe-worthy because of the cruelty and harshness of both her husband and her lover. The conclusion of the film, however, does not disappoint. After an hour and a half of brutality, there’s a soft landing with a feeling of ‘Yeah, this was actually a good film.’ IMDB: Diary of a Mad Housewife

Heart Like a Wheel (1983) Bonnie BedeliaBeau BridgesBruce Barlow, Anthony Edwards, Hoyt Axton

As a little girl Shirley Muldowney sat on her daddy’s lap as he drove at high speeds the country roads in his coupe. As a teen, when her boyfriend couldn’t beat the local champ at street racing, she took the wheel and beat him easily. Racing became her passion. Her husband build her first race car, but she faced incredible odds and discrimination when she tried to compete in a men’s only sport. This biopic follows the career and personal life of the first woman professional drag racer. Good acting, good story, good film.  Entertaining and well worth watching. IMDB: Heart Like a Wheel

They All Kissed the Bride (1942) Joan CrawfordMelvyn DouglasRoland Young, Billie Burke, Allen Jenkins

Maggie runs a transportation company with an iron fist and with nothing but business on her mind. Mike writes an unflattering book about how her business takes advantage of its employees. Make sees Maggie as a machine and not a woman until Maggie inexplicably falls in love with him. Complications and plot twists commence. This fluffy comedy is awkward and of average entertainment value. It has a few funny moments but dwells on conflict, power struggles, and arguing. Watchable but there are better choices elsewhere. IMDB: They All Kissed the Bride

Hollywood on Parade (1932-1934) Fredric MarchBen Turpin, Richard ArlenTallulah BankheadLew Cody, Warren William, Joe E. BrownMaurice Chevalier,. Buster KeatonWarner BaxterJoan Bennett, Sally Blane, Jackie CooperBing CrosbyCarole Lombard, Buster CrabbeW.C. FieldsChico Marx, Stuart ErwinBing CrosbyGracie Allen, Tom Mix, Mary Pickford, Jean Harlow  

Similar to newsreels shown in theaters in the 30s prior to the feature, these shorts present vignettes, novelty acts, singing, dancing, and interviews with Hollywood’s top stars. The entertainment value of these shorts is moderate, but there are some gems and there is historical interest in seeing stars early in their careers and others who were silent film stars and are now featured in speaking roles. Worth watching. IMDB: Hollywood on Parade

Friday the Thirteenth (1933) Jessie MatthewsSonnie HaleMuriel Aked

A London bus filled with passengers on a rainy night crashes, killing two and injuring many others. After the opening crash, the film flashes back to review the lives of the passengers. The end of the film reveals the passengers who died in the crash. Many plots running simultaneously throughout this film makes it difficult to keep everyone straight, and the fast-talking characters with their British accents makes dialogue difficult to understand at times. Some of the stories are interesting, and the PreCode relationships and chorus girls add interest, (Jessie Matthews is outstanding) but overall, the entertainment value of this film is moderate. IMDB: Friday the Thirteenth

Jungle Bride (1933) Anita PageCharles StarrettKenneth Thomson

A luxury liner crashes spectacularly into a reef, and four survivors end up on a remote island off the coast of Africa—a beauty, her fiancee, a man accused of murder, and a jokester. The beauty finds the man accused of murder more attractive and more manly than her fiancee. Highlights include some PreCode allure, hand-to-claw combat with a lion, and Anita Page. However, dialogue is stiff, acting amateurish, and the plot weak. Moviemakers made an effort here to create a adventure/romance, but fell short. I wasted my time watching this primitive talkie to save you from losing an hour of your life. IMDB: Jungle Bride

By Appointment Only (1933) Lew CodyAileen PringleSally O’Neil, Marceline Day

A doctor’s receptionist leaves a sick woman waiting until the end of the day to see a busy doctor. When she dies in the reception room, the doctor has to deal with her 14-year-old daughter, who was waiting downstairs. He tells her that her widowed mother was sent to the hospital, and he will take her home and take care of her. He falls in love with her. This film portrays a relationship that would not be filmed today. It’s a little creepy, and the film does not develop the plot and the relationship. There’s nothing worthy enough about this film to warrant devoting time to watching it. IMDB: By Appointment Only

 

RARE, SELDOM-SEEN, AND CLASSIC MOVIES

SEPTEMBER, 2018 POST

Nancy Drew: Trouble Shooter (1939) Bonita GranvilleFrankie ThomasJohn Litel, Willie Best

The sheriff locks up a local land owner for suspicion of murdering his neighbor, with whom he’s had a long-running feud. Carson Drew is his  lawyer, but Mr. Drew’s daughter, Nancy, is the one to track down all the clues in this murder mystery. With a lot of suspense and some action scenes, this is a fun film to watch. Negatives are the preponderance of coincidences, stereotypical racial behavior, and some weak attempts at humor. Other than that, it’s a typical Nancy Drew series offering that’s entertaining enough to watch. IMDB: Nancy Drew: Trouble Shooter

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939) Bonita GranvilleFrankie ThomasJohn Litel

Two elderly sisters plan to donate their house to a children’s charity, but a will indicates they cannot sell the house without living in the house every night. They have two weeks to go until the conditions of the will expire. Someone commits theft and murder to scare the ladies out of the house before the terms of the will are up. Nancy outshines the police with her detective work. This film is fast-paced and fun. It’s a good murder mystery on its own, but it’s enhanced with Granville’s acting, the story itself, good directing, and loads of humor and suspense. I highly recommend this movie. You’ll enjoy it! IMDB: Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Merton of the Movies (1947) Red SkeltonVirginia O’BrienGloria Grahame

Merton is the quintessential Born Loser who wants nothing more than to be a movie actor. He worms his way into some scenes, but always klutzes up his dramatic moments, and onlookers just laugh at him. The beautiful girl who falls in love with him tries to convince him that his success will come as a comedian. This film is a pleasant comedy with plenty of physical antics. Skelton is an accomplished comedian, and this format his a his forte. Well done and entertaining. IMDB: Merton of the Movies

Alibi Ike (1935) Joe E. BrownOlivia de HavillandRuth Donnelly, William Frawley, Paul Harvey

The Cubs need a pitcher, and Ike comes up from the minors. He’s sensational, but the other players continually prank him and Ike continually makes alibis. Ike falls in love, the mob puts pressure on him to throw games, and the manager needs to make the playoffs to keep his job. This film is a good comedy with Brown’s ‘aw shucks’ humor and alibis at the center of the story. The alibis get a bit tiresome, but the story is good, the acting is acceptable, and there are enough laughs to make it good entertainment. IMDB: Alibi Ike

The Tenderfoot (1932) Joe E. BrownGinger RogersLew Cody

A crooked theatrical producer fleeces wealthy Texas rancher, Calvin Jones, shortly after he arrives in New York. The producer’s beautiful secretary helps Calvin understand his situation, tells him he’s stupid, and scolds him for having no backbone. He’s fallen in love with her, so he does whatever is needed to remedy his situation and win the girl. In this film the acting is good, the story line is adequate, and there are enough laughs to make it a good comedy. Ginger Rogers starring in the film bolsters its watchability. This is a solid Joe E. Brown film you will enjoy. IMDB: The Tenderfoot

Riding on Air (1937) Joe E. BrownGuy KibbeeFlorence Rice

Local newsman, Elmer Lane, wins $5000 in an essay contest and is set upon by swindlers. This Joe E. Brown comedy features aerial stunts and photography as well as Brown’s goofiness. It costars the beautiful Florence Rice, has a few laughs, and is mildly entertaining. IMDB: Riding on Air

When’s Your Birthday? (1937) Joe E. BrownMarian MarshFred Keating, Edgar Kennedy

Dustin Willoughby makes all of life’s decisions based on astrology. He even puts off his wedding date because the stars are not properly aligned. Gamblers and other opportunists take advantage of him. He improbably ends up in a world championship boxing match. This film is a rambling farce with some humorous scenes and a lot of slapstick ala Joe E. Brown. There’s a romance, of course, and the highlight of the film is the fight scene at the end of the film—actually pretty good. Although this film is watchable, other Joe E. Brown films are much better. IMDB: When’s Your Birthday?

The Gladiator (1938) Joe E. BrownJune TravisMan Mountain Dean, Dickie Moore

Hugo Kipp’s father and grandfather were athletic standouts at college, but Hugo can’t even afford to go to college. When he unexpectedly wins a raffle at a theater, he enrolls in college and tries out for the football team. He’s so bad that he becomes the laughing stock of the campus, and his teammates take pleasure in making a fool of him. The scientist with whom Hugo is living has been experimenting with a formula that gives one super-human strength. When he secretly injects Hugo with the formula, he becomes so strong he has to be careful not to hurt anyone. This film is an excellent comedy with lots of laughs, plenty of physical comedy, a romance, and a  tender relationship with a crippled orphan. Brown does most of his own stunts, and gets a real workout throughout this film. Solid acting all around, an action-filled story, and romance and pathos make this one of Joe E. Brown’s better films. I highly recommend it. IMDB: The Gladiator

Wide Open Faces (1938) Joe E. BrownJane WymanAlison Skipworth, Sidney Toler, Stanley Fields

Soda jerk, Wilbur Meeks, nearly drives a get-a-way car for the notorious back robber, Duke Temple, before the police capture Duke. Criminals from all over then converge on the town to find the money Duke apparently hid. Wilbur is in the middle of all the action while trying to win over a potential girlfriend. This film is standard Joe E. Brown fare with lots of complications, some laughs, and a suspenseful, action-packed climax. This film is a ‘B’ comedy and moderately entertaining. IMDB: Wide Open Faces

Flirting with Fate (1938) Joe E. BrownLeo CarrilloBeverly Roberts, Stanley Fields

Dan Dixon manages a troupe of entertainers as they travel through South America. He can’t do anything right and let’s the troupe down miserably. He feels the only way to truly serve the troupe is to commit suicide so they can cash in his insurance policy and return to New York. The plot of this film revolves around his attempts to kill himself. Nothing exceptional here. Some laughs and lots of silly action make this merely watchable entertainment. IMDB: Flirting with Fate

Earthworm Tractors (1936)  Joe E. BrownJune TravisGuy Kibbee, Carol Hughes, Gene Lockhart

Alexander Botts considers himself a super salesman, but he’s only selling quirky gadgets. His girlfriend, Sally, won’t pursue their relationship until he sells something more substantial and important. He lands a position selling Earthworm Tractors and creates havoc wherever he goes. The plot focuses on Alexander trying to make an impossible sale to the local lumber merchant and, at the same time, win over his daughter. This film is one of Joe E. Brown’s best with plenty of laughs, good acting all around, plenty of action, and plenty of suspense. Joe E. Brown can be hokey but he’s at his best here. You’ll enjoy this movie. IMDB: Earthworm Tractors

Daughter of the Dragon (1931) Anna May WongWarner OlandSessue Hayakawa

Fu Manchu seeks revenge in London on those who killed his family in Hong Kong. He kills all but one before he is killed in his final attempt. Dying in his daughter’s arms, he secures her solemn oath to carry out his revenge by killing his final target. Trouble is, she falls in love with the object of her mission. This film achieves modest interest with subpar acting and a slow start. Interest increases as the film progresses and ends with a powerful denouement. You should view this film if you are an Anna May Wong completist, as I am, but, overall, the entertainment value is only moderate. IMDB: Daughter of the Dragon

The Devil is Driving (1937) Richard DixJoan PerryNana Bryant, Ann Rutherford, Paul Harvey

Paul Driscoll is running for district attorney when he’s asked by a prominent citizen and friend to defend his son in a drunken driving case in which he killed a woman and crippled her daughter. Friends and colleagues of the influential citizen, including Mr. Driscoll who defends him in court, lie in court in order to free the  young man. When Mr. Driscoll becomes district attorney he atones for his perjury by strictly enforcing driving regulations and, in particular, drunk driving. When he prosecutes the same young man for a second drunk driving murder, he faces perjured testimony from everyone on the witness stand. This film takes a moral stand against reckless driving and drunk driving. The plot is strong and the acting more than competent. Although melodramatic at times, this film is riveting and well worth watching. IMDB: The Devil is Driving

Their Own Desire (1929)  Norma ShearerBelle BennettLewis Stone, Robert Montgomery

Lally loves her dad, and he’s the end-all and be-all of her life—until he decides to divorce her mother for the woman Lally always suspected had her eye on her dad. Lally and her mother take a trip to the lakeshore, where Lally falls in love with (unbeknownst to her) the son of her father’s mistress. Norma Shearer’s acting is just goofy throughout this film. Even though there are some bright acting moments, there’s a lot of hokey acting—awkward. An improbable plot doesn’t help this turkey.  (I shouldn’t be too hard on this film because it’s a transition film from silents to talkies. The actors and filmmakers are trying, and the film is a good study in the difficult transition from silent to talking films.) It’s watchable, but painful. IMDB: Their Own Desire

Hollywood or Bust (1956) Dean MartinJerry LewisPat Crowley, Maxie Rosenbloom, Anita Ekberg

Steve creates counterfeit tickets for a theater raffle to win a car, but Malcolm has the legitimate winning ticket. They both win but have to share the car. Steve needs to flee his bookie, and Malcolm is starstruck about Anita Ekberg. Steve lies about his connections with Anita, so they start off together on a cross-country trip to Hollywood. Most of this film covers their cross-country trip in their shared car. There’s a lot of silliness, beautiful girls, romance, and laughs. This fluffy comedy works well for Dean and Jerry. It’s there last film together. No thinking involved. Enjoy. IMDB: Hollywood or Bust

The King of Comedy (1982) Robert De NiroJerry LewisDiahnne Abbott, Sandra Bernhard

Rupert Pupkin and his crazy girlfriend, Masha, are obsessed with talk show host Jerry Langford. Rupert’s an aspiring comedian and takes extreme measures to get a guest spot on Jerry’s show. This is an unusual film with Robert De Niro playing a humorous version of his Taxi Driver character, Travis Bickle. He’s obsessive, obnoxious, and laser-focused on his objective. Acting is first rate (Sandra Bernhard gives a standout performance), the story is engaging, and the entertainment value is high in this movie. And, it’s directed by Martin Scorsese. This is a film you should see. You’ll enjoy it. IMDB: The King of Comedy

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) James CagneyBarbara PaytonHelena Carter, Ward Bond, Luther Adler, John Litel, William Frawley

Ralph Cotter escapes from prison but immediately returns to a life of crime. He bullies, intimidates, and strong arms his way to success as a criminal. He even blackmails the local police inspector. This film is an outstanding crime drama with plenty of action and with James Cagney at his shrewdest, and most brutal. Great story, great acting, great suspense and tension. The only negative is that beautiful women fall hopelessly in love with Ralph. It doesn’t ring true. Other than that, this is an excellent film you will enjoy. IMDB: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

Man Hunt (1941) Walter PidgeonJoan BennettGeorge Sanders, John Carradine, Roddy McDowall

Wealthy English adventurer, Alan Thorndike, stalks the Führer from a hillside and takes aim to assassinate him when he’s captured by a patrol of Germans. He escapes, and returns to London, where German spies relentlessly pursue him. A beautiful, young girl, at her own peril, aids him in his efforts to avoid detection. This is a propaganda film that should have more action and more tension.  It lazes along without any edge-of-your-seat suspense. Even though some of the best scenes are driven by the lovelorn, Jerry, it’s annoying that Thorndike remains oblivious. Joan Bennett does the best job of acting in this film, but she can’t turn this into a believable thriller. I had to shake my head during the final scene—it’s way beyond lame. Other than the sweet portrayal of Jerry by Joan Bennett, this film is weak. IMDB: Man Hunt

Pickup (1951) Hugo HaasBeverly MichaelsAllan Nixon

Local tramp, the beautiful and sexy Betty, looks for a pickup in the diner. She sits next to an old widower, the local railroad station master, with a lot of money in his pocket. Evicted from her apartment, she needs an escape and marries him. After marriage she carries on with the young and handsome railroad worker who sleeps in the shed behind the railroad station where they live. When the widower has a medical problem and goes deaf, they carry on in front of him and plot to kill him, take his money, and run away together. The didn’t realize his hearing had come back, but he didn’t tell anyone. This sub-‘B” film is watchable but bad. Acting is amateurish, and Betty is so bitchy, rude, and nasty it’s uncomfortable watching her. Don’t waste your time with this one. IMDB: Pickup

RARE, SELDOM-SEEN, AND CLASSIC MOVIES

JULY/AUGUST, 2018 POST

The Power and the Glory (1933) Spencer TracyColleen MooreRalph Morgan

He’s the man everyone loves to hate—except one guy. Starting out as an illiterate track walker for the railroad, Tom Garner rises to railroad magnate status initiated by his wife’s ambition. In the process, he becomes a different man—a hated, misguided power-lover. This soap opera is a fascinating character study. Spencer Tracy morphs from likable to hated throughout the film, and genuinely portrays both sides of his character. It is gratifying, too, to see silent film star Colleen Moore faithfully portray her role as Garner’s wife. This is a good story with good acting from established and emerging stars. I highly recommend this film. IMBD: The Power and the Glory

The Reckless Moment (1949) James MasonJoan BennettGeraldine Brooks

Lucia Harper fights with her teenage daughter over the unsavory older man she’s dating. Conflicts abound, and multiple murders ensue. This film is engaging and suspenseful with good acting by Joan Bennett and a featured performance by James Mason in a starring role. It’s no award-winner, but it’s well worth watching. IMBD: The Reckless Moment

The Wayward Bus (1957) Joan CollinsJayne MansfieldDan Dailey, Betty Lou Keim

Bus driver, Johnny Chicoy, takes a load of passengers in his dilapidated bus to San Juan. Drama, romance, and intrigue ensue among the passengers who each have a compelling story to portray. There’s great cinematography and a moody sound track backing this drama. There’s a lot of heat—a lot of passion in this movie with Joan Collins and Rick Jason heading an accomplished cast—each carrying out well-developed portrayals of their characters. Jane Mansfield does what she does best—provides the eye candy in what turns out to be a competent acting job on her part. Although this film is based on the classic novel by John Steinbeck, I would strongly urge you to read the book after viewing the film to get the full impact of this often-overlooked character study. If you enjoy films based on literature or if you love a gritty drama, I would highly recommend viewing this film. IMBD: The Wayward Bus

The Girl from Chicago (1932)  Grace SmithCarl MahonEunice Brooks

A government agent tries to save a young girl from a local crime boss and immediately falls in love with her. This film is an early talkie with a predominantly black cast. Its an example of the films produced in the 30s specifically for black audiences. Slim plot with painfully amateurish acting. Showcases some singing and dancing acts. The only reason to watch this film is for historical curiosity. IMBD: The Girl from Chicago

Up Pops the Devil (1931) Richard ‘Skeets’ GallagherStuart ErwinCarole Lombard, Joyce Compton, Willie Best 

Anne loves Biney but refuses to marry him out of fear of stifling his career. He suggests they try marriage out for a year to see if it works. They do marry but, of  course, complications and misunderstandings abound. This is a romantic comedy bordering on farce. I usually enjoy any movie starring Carole Lombard, and she does well in her part, as usual., but the story itself is weak and predictable and doesn’t truly become interesting until well into the film. The entertainment value of this film is only average. IMBD: Up Pops the Devil

My Cousin Rachel (1952) Olivia de HavillandRichard BurtonAudrey Dalton

Ambrose raises his cousin, Philip, until he becomes a man. He then leaves for Italy, falls in love with an Italian woman and marries her. When he mysteriously dies, Philip travels to Italy to determine the circumstances of his death. He falls hopelessly in love with Ambrose’s widow. This film is a first-rate drama/mystery with top talent and excellent acting—the first movie role for Burton who deftly displays his skill as an actor. Dialogue drags at times, but this drama is well worth watching. IMBD: My Cousin Rachel

The Heart Punch (1932) Lloyd HughesMarion ShillingGeorge J. Lewis

Jimmy’s a prizefighter fighting his good friend, Lefty Doyle. He wins the fight with a heart punch that kills Lefty. Although it was an accident, he feels obligated to travel to explain to Lefty’s sister what happened. He falls in love with her, but when she finds out what happened, she hates him. When she’s accused of  killing her lecherous boss, Jimmy goes to extremes to help her out. This is a well-done film with plenty of action, romance, and suspense. The fight scenes are realistic, the story keeps one’s interest, and the acting is first rate. This movie is one that any film fan will enjoy. IMBD: The Heart Punch

Without Honors (1932) Harry CareyMae BuschGibson Gowland 

Cowboy hero, Pete Marlan, is superhuman in his endeavors—rescuing a kidnapped girl, punishing her abuser, catching a gambler cheating, uncovering a smuggling operation, and so on. This is a true ‘B’ picture with all aspects of the film on an amateur level. Watch this only if you have to see every Harry Carey or Mae Busch film. IMBD: Without Honors

Cher Live in Concert from Las Vegas (1999) Cher

This filmed HBO special from the MGM Grand in 1999 features Cher singing her greatest hits. Cher is at her best here with amazing energy, beauty, eye-popping costumes, acrobatic performers galore, video montages, and a talented band with backup singers. Many under-appreciate Cher’s talent, but she demonstrates in this concert through powerful hit songs and a montage of her film and TV career that she’s been a major star over many decades. The concert ends on a crescendo with a performance of ‘Believe’ that will send chills up your spine (in a good way). Cher delivers a feel-good experience you won’t soon forget. It’s must see viewing! IMBD: Cher: Live in Concert from Las Vegas

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) Tim CurrySusan SarandonBarry Bostwick, Meat Loaf

Brad’s car breaks down on a dark, stormy night in a lonely, wooded area. He and his fiancee, Janet, walk to a nearby castle to phone for help. There they enter the bizarre world of the transvestite, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who creates life in the form of a perfect young man, intended for his pleasure. Thereafter, nothing goes according to plan. I recently attended a live performance of The Rocky Horror Show and was so impressed I had to see the film based on the musical. The stage show was high-energy camp with amazing choreography! The horror musical comedy film mirrors the stage musical but lacks its explosive, imaginative choreography and the audience participation. It makes a difference. The Rocky Horror Picture Show drags at times, but overall maintains its energy with a powerful rock score. I recommend seeing the film because it is a unique viewing experience, but if you can find a professional stage presentation of the musical, that’s a must-see experience. IMBD: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Age of Consent (1932) Dorothy WilsonArline JudgeRichard Cromwell 

College student Michael’s frustrated because he’s overwhelmed with all the free love going on among the other students when all he wants is a wholesome relationship with a nice girl.  Betty’s the nice girl who falls in love with him but won’t let loose like the other girls. Michael wants to quit school and marry her right away, but she wants to wait until he graduates. His subsequent drunken fling with an underage girl blows up the relationship. This ‘B’ movie about free love in college turns out to be a morality play about the need for wholesome relationships before marriage. The film is rather ham-handed and obvious with its message, but the story is well-done, the acting is acceptable, and it’s entertaining enough to be watchable. IMBD: Age of Consent

The Crooked Circle (1932)  Zasu PittsJames GleasonBen Lyon

The Crooked Circle is a secret society involved in all types of  criminality. At the beginning of the film the members draw lots to see who will carry out the murder of their next target. The only woman in the society draws the indicative lot and timidly attempts to fulfill her assignment. All the action takes place in an old, dark house with hidden passages, moving walls, mysterious music, skeletons, a dusty attic, and a grave yard. Zasu Pitts provides the humor (?). This is a murder mystery farce, which, seen from today’s perspective, is clichéd and predictable. The plot is geared toward scary surprises and corny humor,  but the film is interesting enough to watch—once. IMBD: The Crooked Circle

Union Depot (1932) Douglas Fairbanks Jr.Joan BlondellGuy Kibbee, Alan Hale

A broke chorus girl sits in Union Depot despondent about not being able to get to Salt Lake City to join a show. A hobo with stolen clothes and stolen money appears to be her knight in shining armor. Conflicts galore commence. This film is very well done, and Joan Blondell and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are magnetic. The PreCode plot deals with some sexuality and violence. The story is strong, and the acting is solid all around. This film is a solid ’30s romantic drama you will enjoy. Highly recommended. IMBD: Union Depot

Nancy Drew: Detective (1938) Bonita GranvilleJohn LitelJames Stephenson, Frankie Thomas, Mae Busch

A wealthy dowager donates $250,000 to Nancy’s school and then mysteriously disappears the next day. Against all odds, Nancy is determined to find out what happened. This is an interesting film, and Bonita Granville is the perfect actress for this role. Nancy Drew also serves as a good model for young, strong, independent girls—she even changes her own flat tire. Well-acted, good story. You’ll enjoy this film. IMBD: Nancy Drew: Detective

Nancy Drew: Reporter (1939) Bonita GranvilleJohn LitelFrankie Thomas

Nancy competes with other students to win a contest to write the best news story for the local paper. They’re handed lame assignments, so Nancy steals an assignment from a real reporter’s desk—to cover a murder trial. She gets involved with the suspects and puts herself in grave danger. This film is a fast-paced crime drama/mystery with talented actors, a great story, humor, suspense, and entertainment from start to finish. Yeah, it’s Nancy Drew, but this is a well-made film you’ll find yourself watching intently. I consider it must see viewing. IMBD: Nancy Drew: Reporter

 

RARE, SELDOM-SEEN, AND CLASSIC MOVIES

JUNE, 2018 POST

Father is a Bachelor (1950) William HoldenColeen GrayMary Jane Saunders, Charles Winninger, Stuart Erwin, Billy Gray

After the medicine show is broken up by the sheriff, Johnny runs off and comes upon a cabin by the river, where five young children live by themselves. (Turns out their parents died in a river accident, and they exist hidden from society.) They slowly suck ‘Uncle’ Johnny into taking care of them. He tangles with the richest man in town, falls in love with the judge’s daughter, but agrees to marry a rich spinster so he can better take carer of the kids. The first scene of this film finds Holden in black face singing as part of a medicine show. (It does get better from there.) In fact, Holden does a lot of singing in this film—at least his lips move to someone singing pretty well. He does well in the role, and the acting all around is well done. The story is engaging, the kids are cute, there are some truly funny scenes, and there’s heartwarming sentiment throughout.  Not a great movie but a light diversion. The movie gets more interesting as it moves toward the ending credits, and it’s entertaining enough to watch. IMBD: Father is a Bachelor

Sinners in the Sun (1932) Carole LombardChester MorrisAdrienne Ames, Cary Grant

Doris and Jimmie love each other, but Doris won’t marry Jimmie because she doesn’t want to live in poverty—he doesn’t make enough for them to live comfortably. Jimmie then breaks up with her. She starts dating a rich man, but her father kicks her out of the house for coming home early in the morning after dates with a married man. She then becomes the man’s mistress and lives a life of luxury. Jimmie becomes a chauffeur to a rich lady who falls in love with him—they marry. Is all the wealth worth the loss of love? This is actually a very good movie. Carole Lombard is stunning, and she proves her worth as a great actress. The film is a perfect example of a PreCode movie with lots of beautiful girls in their underwear and the focus on unmarried relationships. This is a very engaging film I would consider must see viewing. IMDB: Sinners in the Sun

Such Men are Dangerous (1930) Warner BaxterCatherine Dale OwenHedda Hopper, Bela Lugosi

A beautiful, young girl marries an ugly but rich and powerful man. However, he has no soul and not as much affection for his bride as he has for his checkbook and his power. She goes through with the wedding, but realizing the mistake she has made in marrying a man who cannot show her affection, bolts on her wedding night to her home. Humiliated, her husband vows revenge. This film is a primitive, early talkie with equally primitive acting. What makes the movie interesting is the story itself. It portrays a unique approach to revenge and keeps the viewer guessing. Catherine Dale Owen, although not demonstrating her skills as an actress in this movie, carries her role with her beauty. This is an interesting and entertaining film worth the time spent viewing. IMDB: Such Men are Dangerous

Africa Speaks (1930)  Harald AustinPaul L. HoeflerLowell Thomas

This documentary, filmed in Africa, traces the expedition of two explorers through the African bush. Billed as the ‘Strangest Adventure Ever Filmed,’ I found it fascinating to view all of the major African animals in their natural habitat and several African tribes going about their daily business. There are also several hunting scenes, both by the animals and the native tribesmen. Animals kill humans, and humans kill animals. For the time period, even with some corny dialogue, this is a well done documentary. If you have an interest in the animals and the tribal culture of Africa, I would highly recommend this film. IMDB: Africa Speaks

The Sins of the Children (1930) Louis MannRobert MontgomeryElliott Nugent, Francis X. Bushman Jr., Mary Doran

Papa has big problems with all of his grown children—and finances. Heart of gold papa struggles through each of his children’s difficulties, and tries his best to support them in their struggles—until their struggles become his own. This drama has some comedic moments, particularly with kiddie shenanigans, but it’s mostly a drama of struggles. It’s interesting to see Robert Montgomery in an early role and the accomplished stage actor, Louis Mann, starring in a film, but the entertainment value of this film is low. Worth watching, but contemporary viewers may struggle with it. IMDB: The Sins of the Children

The Birds (1963) Rod TaylorTippi HedrenJessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Richard Deacon

A young lady in a pet shop flirts with a man inquiring about a pair of love birds. When he doesn’t buy them, she purchases the birds and motorboats across the bay to deliver the birds to him. While she is visiting in his town, the local birds become violent and go on the attack. Mayhem ensues. This is a standard horror film with the Hitchcock touch. It’s interesting, and Hitchcock does as well as he can for the time period in creating vicious birds with mechanical birds and technical tricks. Had he made the film today, technology would have afforded him the ability to create even better birds. Regardless, this is a film you should see because of the entertainment value, because it is a classic, and because it is a Hitchcock film. IMDB: The Birds

Strangers of the Evening (1932)  Zasu PittsEugene PalletteLucien Littlefield, Tully Marshall, Miriam Seegar

A murder takes place, and there’s a mix-up with bodies at the funeral home. Eugene Pallette is the detective out to solve the crime. This is a crime drama with comedic elements (its’ got Zasu Pitts in it, ok?) Bad acting and sketchy plot. As an indication of the quality of this film, Pallette flubs lines and there’s no ‘cut’, no reshoot, and no edit. He just powers through, and the show goes on. The entertainment value of this film is below average and a movie you can skip with no feelings of guilt whatsoever. IMDB: Strangers of the Evening

The Good Companions (1933) Jessie MatthewsEdmund GwennJohn Gielgud, Mary Glynne 

Three people leave their unhappy homes to set out on their own. Coincidentally, they all come together working for a traveling musical troupe. The troupe has its troubles, but a star emerges. This film is a British production featuring heavy English accents with rapid-fire delivery. One has to concentrate to understand the dialogue. There’s lots of arguing and people yelling at each other. Nevertheless, this musical has its moments—not too many, but a few. It’s a long slog through this one to enjoy a few tender moments and some musical highlights. Jessie Matthews is the primary highlight—she truly shines. Entertainment value of this film is only moderate. IMDB: The Good Companions

 

RARE, SELDOM-SEEN, AND CLASSIC MOVIES

MAY, 2018 POST

Night Work (1930)  Eddie QuillanSally StarrFrances Upton

Department store window dresser, Willie, mistakenly commits to supporting an orphan. While visiting the orphanage regularly, he falls in love with the little boy’s nurse. This romantic comedy is one of the best of the early talkies. It’s well-written and well-acted. There are typical PreCode scenes and situations, outrageous antics, and hilarious bits. This gem is a tender love story packed with giggles. You’ll enjoy this must see viewing experience from opening credits to THE END. IMDB: Night Work

The Rampant Age (1930) James MurrayMerna KennedyEddie Borden

Nice girl, Doris, stays at home and pines for Sandy, the man she plans to marry, while he attends wild parties and falls prey to bad girl, Estelle. No longer willing to wait, Doris lets loose with the wild crowd in order to make Sandy jealous. She goes a little too far. This film barely breaks the average barrier, but has some entertainment value. I enjoy peeking into the social life and party lifestyle of the 20s, and this film provides that experience. Watchable, amusing, and entertaining enough to keep you in your chair. IMDB: The Rampant Age

Love Me Tonight (1932) Maurice ChevalierJeanette MacDonaldCharles Ruggles, Myrna Loy, Charles Butterworth

A common tailor disrupts the palace by falling in love with the young princess, who has never known love.  (Her previous marriage to an old royal failed when he died.) The princess falls in love with the tailor thinking is also royalty. This film opens with an imaginative sequence which is similar to the opening sequence of Woody Allen’s Manhattan, although less dynamic. There are also other cinematic delights throughout this so-so musical/romantic comedy. The story itself is rather pedestrian, and there are some silly bits. There are also some amateurish musical sequences balanced by classics such as Mimi and Isn’t It Romantic? Overall, the film is a good introduction to the talents of Chevalier and MacDonald and is entertaining. IMDB: Love Me Tonight

Seven Days Leave (1930) Gary CooperBeryl MercerDaisy Belmore

An old London charwoman with no family in her life wants desperately to contribute to the war effort, but no organizations will accept her because of her age. She then lies to her friends that she has a son who serves in the elite Black Watch. When a soldier on leave shows up, who also has no family, she takes him in and treats him like her son. This is a poignant story that delivers an emotional impact. Beryl Mercer gives a touching portrayal of the patriotic, motherly old woman. Cooper’s acting in his first talking picture, although serviceable, is horrible at times and painful to watch. The film, overall, is difficult to warm up to, but if you give it a chance, you’ll find it worth the time spent viewing. IMDB: Seven Days Leave

Sing Sinner Sing (1933) Paul LukasLeila HyamsDon Dillaway, Walter Brennan, Joyce Compton, Ruth Donnelly

A casino owner, Phil, carries on a love affair with, Lela, the headline singer, while also carrying on with a chorus girl. Lela gets fed up and runs away with a drunken millionaire whom she marries. Phil seeks revenge while Lela tries to steady a rocky marriage. This is a surprisingly engaging film with plot twists and suspense. Plenty of beauty, lots of PreCode partying, and an overabundance of violent emotions. This is a dynamic film and well worth watching. IMDB: Sing Sinner Sing

Pandora’s Box (1929) Louise BrooksFritz KortnerFrancis Lederer, Daisy D’Ora

Lulu lives extravagantly as the mistress of wealthy editor, Dr. Ludwig Schön, until he decides to break up in order to marry a wealthy, young socialite. Working as a dancer, Lulu throws a tantrum and refuses to perform when Dr. Schön brings his fiancee to the theater. Caught in an embarrassing embrace with Lulu by his fiancee at the theater, he caves and decides to marry Lulu. Things spin out of control thereafter. This film is the ultimate silent drama. Everything about it is incomparable—the acting, the story, the lighting, the cinematography, the suspense. Louise Brooks is at her most beautiful and at the height of her career. SEE THIS FILM! It is must see viewing. IMDB: Pandora’s Box

City Park (1934) Sally BlaneHenry B. WalthallMatty Kemp

A homeless and hungry young woman tries to get arrested in the park for prostitution so she can have a roof over her head and warm meals. As she is being arrested, three old men become her guardian angels—saving her from arrest and taking care of her until she can thrive on her own. Complications, suspicion, and illegal activity commence. This is a charming romantic comedy. Sally Blane and Henry B. Walthall showcase their talents in strong performances surrounded by  pedestrian acting, but the weaknesses do not detract from the value of this film. It’s engaging from the first scene, and, although no award-winner, it’s a pleasant diversion and well worth watching. IMDB: City Park

Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914) Charles ChaplinMarie DresslerMabel Normand, Mack Swain, Charles Conklin

A stranger wanders on to a rich farmer’s ranch, discovers the farmer has a lot of cash, convinces the farmer’s daughter to steal her father’s cash and elope to the city with him. In the city, the stranger’s girlfriend is enraged to see him with another woman. When the stranger discovers the farmer’s daughter is to inherit millions from an uncle, he hurries to marry her before she realizes he’s after her money. Conflicts galore within this threesome. This film is the premier example of a feature comedy of the period. Pure humor with no dialogue cards that I recall. Chaplin is a genius at this type of film, and Normand and Dressler give stand out performances. This film is very slapsticky—it’s hard to imagine anything they didn’t bump into, fall over, or get hit with. [I estimate 200 falls, and that may be conservative.] The film may be too slapsticky for contemporary tastes, but it’s great fun if you give it a chance. I highly recommend this movie and any Chaplin film, for that matter. IMDB: Tillie’s Punctured Romance

Minstrel Man (1977) Glynn TurmanTed RossStanley Bennett Clay

A black family is part of a minstrel show, but papa dies in the middle of a performance. One son carries on the minstrel tradition, but the other son is appalled by the minstrel culture and resents his brother for continuing. This film presents blacks in what are stereotypically offensive performances in blackface. Although the movie tries to make a social statement, it is no longer relevant. The movie features good acting and good music, but it’s not  a film contemporary viewers would enjoy. Spend your time with other films. IMDB: Minstrel Man

Paradise Island (1930)  Kenneth HarlanMarceline DayTom Santschi, Betty Boyd

A young woman arrives on a distant tropical island, as the only white woman, to marry her fiancee—a wealthy plantation owner. Unfortunately, she finds him a broken down alcoholic who sleeps with the native girls and is heavily in debt from gambling. She vows, however, to reform him before marrying him. This is a ‘B’ movie with mediocre to terrible acting and the fakest fighting I’ve ever seen on film. Incongruously, there are also musical scenes featuring singing by the principles, which runs contrary to the nature of this gritty film centering on unscrupulous criminals and drunken, libidinous sailors. The film is moderately interesting but can be overlooked without missing much. IMDB: Paradise Island

Strictly Personal (1933) Marjorie RambeauDorothy JordanEddie Quillan, Hugh Herbert

A married couple runs a lonely hearts club out of their home. He’s an ex-con who escaped from prison and is flying under the radar. A teenage girl shows up with a letter from her mother, who is deathly ill, asking the couple to take care of the girl because she is the daughter of the ex-con’s pal, who was supposedly killed in the prison break. A huckster blackmails the couple, works his way into the lonely hearts club business, and preys on a rich widow and the teenage girl. Lots of complications and a murder. This is a well-crafted crime drama with good acting. The action moves the plot along quickly, and the film is interesting from the opening scene. This film is well worth watching. IMDB: Strictly Personal

The Chinese Bungalow (1930) Matheson LangJill EsmondAnna Neagle

An English cabaret singer in China marries a rich Chinese man who takes her to his cottage in the desolate forests of rural China. She has no human contact with anyone but the servants and her husband. Terribly lonely and unhappy, she has an affair with an English gentleman who knew her from the cabaret and followed her to the cottage. Things get ugly thereafter. This is a well-done film with good acting, a good story, and plenty of suspense. You’ll find this movie interesting from the beginning and well worth watching. IMDB: The Chinese Bungalow

This Above All (1942) Tyrone PowerJoan FontaineThomas Mitchell, Nigel Bruce

A young, ultra-patriotic, English aristocrat joins the WAAF during WWII. She meets a dashing young man on a blind date and falls hopelessly in love. Her beau hates aristocrats and is morally opposed to the war. In addition to those conflicts, he   harbors secrets he won’t disclose. This movie, made during the war, is an inspirational ‘Why We Fight’  film disguised as a romance. But it’s a splendid romance. Power and the beautiful Fontaine are exceptional in their roles, and the story is moving, heart-wrenching, and suspenseful. If you’re looking for a war-time romance, there is none better. For romance enthusiasts, this is must see viewing. IMDB: This Above All

 

MOVIES: RARE AND SELDOM-SEEN

APRIL, 2018 POST

Gallant Lady (1933) Ann HardingClive BrookOtto Kruger, Dickie Moore

Sally’s boyfriend dies in a plane accident and leaves her pregnant and alone. Unable to raise her child, she gives him up for adoption. Yearning for her lost child, she schemes to get him back in her life. This Pre-Code gem offers great acting with Ann Harding playing a very sympathetic role to perfection. This is an emotional, suspenseful film with its only weakness being the plot line moving too quickly with unlikely coincidences. The film is totally engaging from beginning to end, and I’d deem it must see viewing. IMDB: Gallant Lady

One Way Passage (1932) William PowellKay FrancisFrank McHugh

On board the ship from Hong Kong to San Francisco a frail beauty falls in love with a charismatic charmer. She doesn’t realize he’s a convicted murderer under the watchful eye of the detective on board, and he doesn’t realize she’s close to death. This is another Pre-Code winner! It’s a romantic comedy with a bittersweet twist. You’ll laugh, and you’ll tug at the box of tissues. Don’t miss this must see film. IMDB: One Way Passage

It’s a Boy (1933) Leslie HensonAlbert BurdonEdward Everett Horton

On Dudley’s wedding day a young man shows up claiming to be his son from Dudley’s long-ago dalliance with a girl in his office. Twists and complications comprise the plot of this film. The movie is a fast-paced farce with an annoying number of improbable complications arising every few minutes. With only a few bright spots and few laughs, I found myself yearning for the end of this dud. IMDB: It’s a Boy

Just Imagine (1930)  El BrendelMaureen O’SullivanJohn Garrick, Mischa Auer

This early ‘talkie’ takes place in the distant future (1980) where people get around in flying cars, communicate via TVs, bring the dead back to life, and travel to Mars. People also have numbers instead of names, and the government decides who marries whom. The plot revolves around a young people who are in love but, by government regulation, are destined to marry others. This science fiction, romance, comedy, musical features the charming Maureen O’Sullivan in one of her first feature films. The movie also highlights many primitive futuristic inventions and too many singing and dancing segments. The movie has some cute moments, but the acting is terrible, the plot takes too many diversions, and it doesn’t hold up well for today’s viewers. You might want to check this out for some innovative cinematic techniques, a 1930s view of the future, and a teenaged Maureen O’Sullivan, but it will appeal to very few modern viewers. IMDB: Just Imagine

Just Like Heaven (1930) Anita LouiseDavid NewellYola d’Avril

A balloon-man/organ grinder bullies another street troupe, which includes a beautiful, young ballerina. Eventually, he falls in love with her, and her boyfriend complicates matters in a tricky love-triangle. This film is a simple, early talkie with mediocre acting and a weak story. It would be difficult for contemporary viewers to tolerate, but it is watchable. IMDB: Just Like Heaven

Beat Girl (Wild for Kicks) (1960) David FarrarNoëlle AdamChristopher Lee, Adam Faith, Shirley Anne Field, Oliver Reed

Serious teenage revolt here! Already rebellious and sneaking out at night to hang with the ‘beat’ crowd, Jennifer accelerates her misbehavior when Dad brings home his new, French bride. This British film has a John Barry soundtrack (a plus) and the storyline is fairly interesting. Acting is mediocre, there is extreme conflict and tension. Worth a watch. IMDB: Beat Girl

Abraham Lincoln (1930) Walter HustonUna MerkelWilliam L. Thorne, Jason Robards Sr.

This film covers Lincoln’s early life through his assassination. The movie is a fascinating look at one of history’s greatest leaders directed by the legendary D. W. Griffith. Huston is a perfect Lincoln and Una Merkel distinguishes herself in her dramatic turn as Ann Rutledge. Whether you enjoy biographies or a good time with an old movie, you will enjoy what I consider must see viewing. IMDB: Abraham Lincoln

Love in High Gear (1932) Harrison FordAlberta VaughnTyrell Davis

Someone steals a gift of valuable pearls at a wedding, and a guest jealously wants his fiancee to elope with him because another guest is her former boyfriend—as well as the boyfriend of many of the other female wedding guests. This comedy turns into a farce when all the principals turn up at the honeymoon hotel and in, out, and through the bridal suite. This film is a weak farce with poor acting, a juvenile storyline, and forced attempts at humor. Don’t waste your time with this one. IMDB: Love in High Gear

Parole Girl (1933) Mae ClarkeRalph BellamyMarie Prevost

A young woman works the rackets in department stores but eventually gets caught. Although the store manager is willing to give her another chance, the man in charge of store security insists that she be prosecuted. She goes to prison hating the man responsible for sending her there and vows revenge. Going into viewing a movie titled “Parole Girl” I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. This crime drama/romance is entertaining from beginning to end. Mae Clark is fascinating, and acting all around is spot on. Even with some inexplicable coincidences, the story line works well. This is a solid film. If you’re looking for a well-made, highly entertaining PreCode experience, this is must see viewing. IMDB: Parole Girl

Paris Bound (1929) Ann HardingFredric MarchCarmelita Geraghty, Ilka Chase

A young couple marry and vow to love one another forever. At the wedding it is obvious that there is a girl who is madly in love with the groom and a guy who is madly in love with the bride. Over time infidelity offers itself up to each of the happily married partners—do they bend, do they break, do they remain faithful? This early talkie offers stilted acting and a simplistic story. It also presents a viewpoint of male superiority all too common for the time period. Although this film is watchable, your time is better spent watching a higher quality film. IMDB: Paris Bound

Seas Beneath (1931) George O’BrienMarion LessingMona Maris

A schooner roams the sea with a huge, hidden gun looking for German submarines to sink. The captain falls in love with a beautiful blonde who turns out to be a German spy. This film is directed by John Ford, which is a plus, but the acting is subpar. There is some action at sea and also some intrigue in port, but this is an average film which you can skip without missing much. IMDB: Seas Beneath

Sensation Hunters (1933) Arline JudgePreston FosterMarion Burns, Walter Brennan

A troupe of young girls boards a cruise ship in Los Angeles headed for Panama where they will perform in a nightclub and entertain the male customers. A naive passenger joins the troupe despite warnings from the man on board who has fallen in love with her. This PreCode film features a lot of girls in lingerie, decent acting, and a serviceable story. It’s entertaining enough to hold your interest and is well worth watching. IMDB: Sensation Hunters

Inside the Lines (1930) Betty CompsonRalph ForbesMontagu Love

A woman in high society is suspected of being a German spy. Some around her try to determine if she is, while one handsome gentleman falls in love with her. This film is a bad “B” movie with awkward acting. All I can say is “stay away.” IMDB: Inside the Lines

A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923) Edna PurvianceClarence GeldartCarl Miller, Adolphe Menjou

A jilted young woman flees to Paris and lives a tangled life of complicated romances. This silent drama by Charlie Chaplin is a true classic. Chaplin appears only in a brief cameo, but the performances of Purviance and, particularly, Menjou lift this film above similar films of the period. View this melodrama once to enjoy it, give it a rest, and then return to view it again. You’ll appreciate the genius of Chaplin more with every viewing. Of course, this film is must see viewing. A Woman of Paris

 

MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

FEBRUARY/MARCH, 2018 POST

Alice Adams (1935) Katharine Hepburn, Fred MacMurray, Fred Stone, Evelyn Venable, Charley Grapewin, Hedda Hopper, Hattie McDaniel

This Booth Tarkington story features working class Alice striving to be a part of upper class society. An upper class beau dates her not knowing her true social status. The viewer watching this film will experience those emotions which filmgoers appreciate in great movies. This film offers a family-oriented, Midwestern culture, nostalgic atmosphere as Katharine Hepburn garners empathy from the viewer. Her performance is outstanding, and her talent combined with a delightful story make this a must see movie. IMDB: Alice Adams

The Little Girl Next Door (1912)

William GarwoodMarguerite SnowMarion Fairbanks, Madeline Fairbanks

A wealthy couple decide to take their daughter to the park. She wants to bring her friend next door. When the maid takes the girls for a walk in the park, she becomes involved in a lengthy conversation with the policeman. Meanwhile, the girls slip away and take a canoe out on to the lake. The canoe tips over, and bad things happen. Won’t spoil the plot too much, but it is a very simple story. This early silent short is mildly interesting and short enough to be entertaining. IMDB: The Little Girl Next Door

Afgruden (The Woman Always Pays) (1910)

Asta NielsenRobert DinesenPoul Reumert

Beautiful young woman falls in love with a circus performer and runs away with him—leaving behind the man who loves her. After she sees her new lover kissing another performer, she attacks the girl on stage during her act. She and her lover are fired. They now need to earn a living, and one option is prostitution. This silent short is well-acted and interesting enough to watch.  The lead actress is particularly good. It’s always rewarding to view competent productions from over 100 years ago. IMDB: Afgruden (The Woman Always Pays)

The Cry of the Children (1912)

Marie ElineEthel WrightJames Cruze 

Mom, Dad and two kids work in the mill every day. They leave little Alice, the youngest child, at home. When the wealthy mill owner’s wife sees Alice getting water, she falls in love and tries to adopt  her. Alice loves her mother too much to leave, though. When a mill strike comes, and times get tough, Alice also goes to work in the mill. With the family still struggling, Alice sneaks off to try to be adopted by the mill owner’s wife. This film is a gritty tale of child labor and a family’s struggle to put bread on the table. Although a primitive early silent, this short is emotional and well worth watching. IMDB: The Cry of the Children

Frankenstein (Edison) (1910)

Mary FullerCharles OgleAugustus Phillips

Frankenstein goes to college, becomes a doctor, and discovers the secret of life. He puts his knowledge to work by creating  a human monster with an evil brain. This Edison film is a very quick version of the classic by Shelley, but it’s interesting to see what Edison did to bring this story to the screen. Of historic interest, as opposed to riveting entertainment. IMDB: Frankenstein (Edison)

Silas Marner (1916)

Frederick WardeLouise BatesMorgan Jones

Poor weaver has a run of bad luck until he ‘adopts’ a curly-haired toddler who wanders into his home as her mother dies in the snow. This is an early silent that is relatively well done for the time. Based on the classic English novel, this is moderately entertaining. IMDB: Silas Marner

The Vicar of Wakefield (1917)

Frederick WardeBoyd MarshallKathryn Adams

A wealthy vicar descends into poverty while continuing to show strength for his family and helping them to deal with misfortune. This early silent film is a decent adaptation of a classic English novel. Although primitive compared to contemporary films, it is watchable. IMDB: The Vicar of Wakefield

Men in War (1957)

Robert RyanAldo RayRobert Keith, Vic Morrow

The story of the foot soldier in the Korean War. A squad of soldiers try to reconnect with their battalion and encounter a number of skirmishes along the way. An average amount of action and a lot of suspense. Incredible cinematography. This is a good war movie. Well worth watching. IMDB: Men in War

City Lights (1931)

Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill

Although the era of silent films had passed, Chaplin refused to make talkies, feeling that silent films were the true film art form. In this film the tramp falls in love with a beautiful blind girl, who has fallen on bad times financially. The film is emotional and beautiful in its own right. Chaplin also wrote the musical score, which adds considerable pathos to the viewing experience. This film marks the high point of Chaplin’s films and would be a good introduction to his work. Chaplin fan or not, sit back and revel in the beauty and grace of a film masterpiece. This is a must see film. IMDB: City Lights

The Sun Shines Bright (1953)

Charles WinningerArleen WhelanJohn Russell, Stepin Fetchit, Milburn Stone, Slim Pickens

A Southern judge, and patriotic Confederate veteran, takes several unpopular stands against his community despite the approach of election day. This John Ford movie has weaknesses to the extent that I was going to recommend skipping it. However, watching the movie to the end, it has redeeming qualities and is worth watching. Winninger shines in this film. Be warned however: there are really objectionable racial stereotypes presented here. There are moments of weak acting, and there are plot flaws. But Ford presents a sentimental, moralistic story which prevents this from being a bad movie. Give it a try, particularly if you are a Ford completist. IMDB: The Sun Shines Bright

So This is New York (1948)

Henry MorganRudy ValleeBill Goodwin, Virginia Grey, Leo Gorcey, Arnold Stang, Hugh Herbert

A contented cigar store worker in Indiana is forced by his wife to travel to New York when she and her sister inherit a large amount of money. He tries to keep track of the money, his wife spends with abandon, and her sister looks for a rich husband. This is a breezy comedy which surprises with wit and laugh-out-loud predicaments. You’ll enjoy this well-done film, which is well-worth watching. IMDB: So This is New York

The Dark Mirror (1946)

Olivia de HavillandLew AyresThomas Mitchell

Someone murders a prominent physician. The police lieutenant narrows the suspect down to a girl who had been dating the doctor. When he interviews the girl, he finds out she has an identical twin. The girls are uncooperative, he can’t tell the difference, and his investigation fails. Great acting here and a great script. Olivia de Havilland convincingly plays dual roles as the twin sisters. This film is a suspenseful, first-rate whodunit. For mastery fans or those who simply like a good movie, this is must see  viewing. IMDB: The Dark Mirror

Bad Boy (1939)

Johnny DownsRosalind KeithHelen MacKellar

A talented engineer rises quickly in his firm but falls just as fast from gambling, a greedy woman, and embezzlement. This is a morality film with mediocre acting and a predictable plot. A B film at best, you can skip this without missing anything. IMDB: Bad Boy

The Mating Season (1951)

Gene TierneyJohn LundMiriam Hopkins, Thelma Ritter, Jan Sterling

A young married couple deals with the problem of two mother-in-laws living with them. The husband’s mother poses as the cook, unbeknownst to the wife. Thelma Ritter is superb, and Gene Tierney is beautiful. Those are the highlights of this film. This farce gets off to a slow start but warms up about half way through—making it an enjoyable viewing experience. IMDB: The Mating Season

WUSA (1970)

Paul NewmanJoanne WoodwardAnthony Perkins, Pat Hingle, Laurence Harvey, Cloris Leachman, Wayne Rogers

An alcoholic, liberal radio personality takes a job in New Orleans at the conservative radio station WUSA, gets involved in a conspiracy, and, in the meantime, hooks up with a down-and-out barmaid. Both are seeking things that don’t exist for them. The film takes place at the end of the 60s and addresses the social issues relevant at the time. Woodward and Newman are an incredible acting team—as were Tracy and Hepburn and Bogie and Bacall—but they’re also outstanding dramatic actors in their own right. This movie is dated, slow-moving and confusing at times, but enjoy this character study for the strong acting from all involved—but particularly Woodward and Newman. IMDB: WUSA

Poppy (1936)

W.C. FieldsRochelle HudsonRichard Cromwell

Fields adopts Poppy as a little girl and raises her in the circus where he works as a medicine salesman. As a young woman Poppy falls in love with the mayor’s son but is seen by many as not worthy because of her background. There are also complications regarding an inheritance. This movie is funny and tender. Fields does well as a dramatic actor as well as a comedian, and Hudson is adorable and gives an engrossing performance. This film is a classic and a must see movie. IMDB: Poppy

 

MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

JANUARY, 2018 POST

It’s In the Bag (1945)

Fred AllenJack BennyDon Ameche, William Bendix, Rudy Vallee, Binnie Barnes, Robert Benchley, Jerry Colonna, Sidney Toler 

Flea circus ringmaster, Fred Floogle, inherits $12,000,000 from his deceased uncle, only to find that the lawyers embezzled the money and left him only a few chairs and a phonograph record. The record is a recording of his uncle telling him there is $300,000 hidden in one of the chairs. The rest of the film follows Floogle going through outlandish and hilarious scenarios trying to find the chair with the money. Although outdated with corny humor, this film is packed with stars and comedians and is a lot of fun if you give it a chance. IMDB: It’s in the Bag

Magic Town (1947)

James StewartJane WymanKent Smith

Pollster, Rip Smith, sees Grandview as having perfect demographics for polling, so he works undercover in insurance as he secretly conducts his polls.  Turns out, he embarrasses the town nationally. This, in addition to the city leaders of Grandview making disastrous decisions pushes the town nearly into bankruptcy. Rip Smith then steps in to dramatically turn things around. Simple plot here—political arrogance and shenanigans, disaster, hero enters, feel-good recovery. I either viewed a “cut” version of this film, or there were serious plot omissions. It was difficult to connect some plot actions to others. Jimmy Stewart plays his “gee whiz,” optimistic character as he does in many films. This film is no award-winner, but it’s passable entertainment. IMDB: Magic Town

Look Back in Anger (1989)

Kenneth BranaghEmma ThompsonGerard Horan

A weak, downtrodden housewife lives with a brutish husband. A girlfriend steps in to “help” her. This is a powerful drama with superb acting. The entire filmed play takes place in a one-room apartment. At times it is difficult to hear the dialogue because of fast-talking British dialect and some mumbling. The raw emotionality and the presentation, however, make this a riveting drama that is well worth watching. IMDB: Look Back in Anger

Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe (1985)

Ben KingsleyJenny AgutterPatrick Ryecart

This poor guy can’t catch a break. Falsely accused of theft, Silas Marner’s community banishes him. In addition to an odd, non-communicative personality, he also startles others with a condition in which he looks dead. When a woman dies in the snow in front of his house, Marner fights to keep her toddler daughter he found in his house. He’s robbed of his fortune and later in life threatened again with the loss of his “daughter.” This is a dreary film with a powerful but equally dreary soundtrack. I can see viewers bailing on this film early thinking the film boring, but if one sticks with it to the end, it will be a rewarding viewing experience. Kingsley is excellent as Marner, and the cast of actors is equally as compelling. There are some emotional and heart-breaking moments, and if you watch to the end, you’ll realize you’ve watched a very well-done film. This is an excellent adaptation of Eliot’s classic novel. IMDB: Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe

The Woman in White (1997)

Tara FitzgeraldJustine WaddellAndrew Lincoln, Simon Callow, Ian Richardson

Half sisters lead a privileged life until one marries and moves out. Strange things happen: the married sister has changed and no longer talks with her sister; their tutor is fired in disgrace over an inappropriate act with the housekeeper; and a woman in white roams the woods with a devastating secret. Murder, greed, deceit, intrigue, romance, illicit love, and so many unexplained circumstances. This film is truly a great mystery and engaging from start to finish. It’s a wonderful adaptation of the classic novel by Wilke Collins, and if you enjoy films based on literature—this is must see viewing. IMDB: The Woman in White

In the Wake of the Bounty (1933)

Arthur GreenawayMayne LyntonErrol Flynn

This film is a combination travelogue, drama, and documentary. It presents dramatic scenes from the mutiny, including contemporary scenes shot in Tahiti.  It also highlights current life on Pitcairn Island, showing the day-to-day functions and struggles of the descendants of the mutineers. The dramatic scenes are amateurish and actually painful to watch. The Tahitian scenes and the contemporary Pitcairn scenes are only of historical interest. Most interesting are the views of the beautiful Tahitian women. View this film only if you have an historical interest in the events and the legacy of the mutineers. IMDB: In the Wake of the Bounty

Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)

Joan FontaineLouis JourdanMady Christians 

A teenage girl has an obsessive crush on a concert pianist who lives in her building. The crush grows into an affair and a life-long adoration. The young girl’s romance is bittersweet because of the many women in his life. This film is a standard romance/melodrama with good acting and a good story. Nothing truly exceptional here, but it is worthwhile entertainment. IMDB: Letter from an Unknown Woman

Harlow (1965)

Carol LynleyEfrem Zimbalist Jr.Ginger Rogers

This film  is a biopic of Jean Harlow from her first screen test to her death. Considering the subject matter, this could have been a great movie. However, it’s a bad movie. Production values are zero. Acting is subpar. If you choose to watch this movie, be prepared to cringe a lot. IMDB: Harlow

Sleep, My Love (1948)

Claudette ColbertRobert CummingsDon Ameche

Is Alison going crazy and doing unusual and dangerous things, or is there a conspiracy? This is a well-done Gaslight-type thriller. Suspenseful and engaging from the action-filled opening scene. Acting is superb, and the plot twists entertaining. As a bonus, there are snippets of humor throughout. Great movie. Must see viewing.  IMDB: Sleep, My Love

Ruthless (1948)

Zachary ScottLouis HaywardDiana Lynn

Horace Woodruff Vendig uses friends, family, women, and business associates to advance in life. He’s ruthless and feels he can get absolutely anything he wants. This is a fast-moving, interesting film with good acting and an engaging plot. It’s well worth watching. IMDB: Ruthless

Treasure of Fear (Scared Stiff) (1945)

Jack HaleyAnn SavageBarton MacLane

Chess reporter for a newspaper is suspected of murder and gets involved with thieves looking for hidden jewels in a chess set. This farce tries for laughs, but the weak acting and humorless scenes all fall flat. I kept waiting for a redeeming moment, but then ‘The End’ appeared. This is lame. Skip it. IMDB: Treasure of Fear (Scared Stiff)

 

 MOVIES: RARE AND SELDOM-SEEN

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER, 2017 POST

Laughter in Paradise (1951)

Alastair SimFay ComptonGuy Middleton

An old man dies who has always played practical jokes. In his will he leaves to four relatives a large amount of money on the condition that they each accomplish a particular task. This is a light, British comedy that moves quickly and is highly entertaining. Charming, humorous and well worth watching. IMDB: Laughter in Paradise

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

James StewartDonna ReedLionel Barrymore

George Bailey’s dreams are foiled, and he’s stuck in his home town trying to keep his father’s savings and loan afloat in spite of the efforts of the avaricious Mr.Potter to destroy him. A truly wonderful story, top-notch acting with a strong romantic subplot—a film in which the viewer becomes totally engrossed. A perfect film. The final scene is iconic—tear-jerker, feel-good, uplifting. This film is not only must-see viewing, but a film that everyone should have as a part of their film library. IMDB: It’s a Wonderful Life

The Unforgiven (1960)

Burt LancasterAudrey HepburnAudie MurphyLillian Gish

A young woman lives with her mother and brothers in an isolated home on the Kansas prairie. Unknown to her, and a life-long family secret, she was taken from an Indian tribe as a baby during a battle and raised as a white child in a white family. Now, the Indians want her back. This film builds slowly but is fascinating and suspenseful. Good acting, lots of action, and Audrey Hepburn shines in her pivotal role. Well worth watching. IMDB: The Unforgiven

Pressure Point (1962)

Sidney PoitierBobby DarinPeter Falk 

A black prison psychiatrist works hard to help a dangerous Nazi psychopath, who tries to connive his way into a parole. This film is an in-depth study of the making of a psychopath and the conflicts surrounding the patient/psychiatrist relationship. The film is slow-moving, edgy, and gratingly uncomfortable at times. The acting is superb. If you’re a fan of Poitier, you should see this movie. Also, it’s worth watching if you have an interest in this type of film. IMDB: Pressure Point

Life Stinks (1991)

Mel BrooksLesley Ann WarrenJeffrey Tambor

Real estate magnate, Goddard Bolt, makes a bet with a fellow millionaire regarding a blighted urban area inhabited by the homeless. Void of all resources, if Bolt can live among the homeless for a month, he can develop the area; if not, the other millionaire gets the prime real estate. This is a typical Mel Brooks film with sight gags and off-beat humor. There are a lot of funny moments and a decent plot. Lesley Ann Warren stands out as a homeless bag lady. Light and breezy comedy worth watching. IMDB: Life Stinks

Separate But Equal (1991)

Sidney PoitierBurt LancasterRichard Kiley

The schools for whites in the South in the ’50s are beautiful buildings with trees and nice lawns, plentiful supplies, and bus transportation.The schools for blacks are, generally, one-room, ramshackle buildings with few supplies and no bus transportation. Prominent lawyers focus on one school district in South Carolina to force through the courts equal education for all. The fight gets ugly with white retaliation. This film is a well-acted and interesting portrayal of the historic incidents that took place leading up to equal education for all throughout the United States. This movie is well worth watching. IMDB: Separate but Equal

Cloak and Dagger (1946)

Gary CooperRobert AldaLilli Palmer 

College professor becomes an undercover agent during WWII working in Switzerland and Italy behind German lines to thwart the German’s attempt at creating an atom bomb. Succeeds in handling weapons and in hand-to-hand combat with veteran enemy agents. There’s more romance between Cooper and Palmer in this film than there is action. The movie drags at times, and it’s only serviceable as a film noir/war picture. Watch if you’re desperate. IMDB: Cloak and Dagger

Pygmalion (1981)

TwiggyRobert PowellMona Washbourne 

Phoneticist Henry Higgins documents the speech of a London flower girl and bets Colonel Pickering he can make a lady of her in six months. A crisis occurs when the experiment ends, the flower girl, now a lady, can’t return to the streets, and Higgins has made no provision for her future. This is a delightful rendering of the original Shaw script with Twiggy as Eliza Doolittle. Twiggy is adorable and handles the role admirably. This filmed TV production is worth watching for a well-done production of the play. I’d also highly recommend the 1938 classic version of Pygmalion starring Wendy Hiller—the best version of the play I’ve seen. IMDB: Pygmalion

Rope of Sand (1949)

Burt LancasterPaul HenreidClaude Rains

South Africa. Diamonds. Everybody wants them, and everyone in this film uses unethical and illegal means to get them. Oh, and there is also beautiful girl that everyone wants. {Corinne Calvet is delightful to watch but difficult to listen to with her high-pitched, accent-heavy voice.) The major conflict is between diamond-seeker Lancaster and corrupt cop Henreid. Lancaster is a tough-guy, near superhero in this film. Not much action in the first half of the film—too much talk and low-level activity—but the last half provides enough action to make the film interesting enough to watch. IMDB: Rope of Sand

Thunderbolt (1947)

James StewartLloyd BridgesEugene Kern 

This movie is a documentary filmed in 1944 following a fighter squadron using the Thunderbolt fighter bombers based in Corsica. The mission was to strangle the supply routes to the Germans in Italy. Cameras mounted in all parts of the planes were used to shoot the footage. This film is a fascinating look at the day-to-day lives of the airmen and their maintenance crews at the base and also the action during the missions they flew. This is an interesting film well worth watching. IMDB: Thunderbolt

Tropic of Cancer (1970)

Rip TornJames T. CallahanEllen Burstyn

Based on his novel of the same name, this is a literary, erotic and humorous story of Henry Miller’s exploits in Paris—sponging off friends and pursuing romantic liaisons. There is a lot of beautiful women, full frontal nudity, and vulgar language throughout. Weak plot and mediocre acting make this a movie you can skip without missing much [regarding a good film, at least]. If you choose to view this film out of curiosity, make sure the kids are out of the room. IMDB: Tropic of Cancer

A Double Life (1947)

Ronald ColmanEdmond O’BrienSigne Hasso

The roles played by a renowned theater actor consume his life and transform his behavior and relationships. This is a dark thriller with superb acting and an intense character study. It also presents a detailed look at the backstage routines of the theater and the emotions and thoughts of the actors. This is a highly recommended film, particularly if you appreciate first-rate acting or have an interest in the theater. IMDB:  A Double Life

Sidewalk Stories (1989)

Charles LaneNicole AlysiaTom Alpern

A homeless street artist in New York witnesses the murder of a man in an alley. He takes the murdered man’s toddler daughter, who was still nearby, and cares for her. He also attracts the attention of a beautiful and wealthy young woman. This silent movie is filmed in classic black and white with a jazzy/funky soundtrack that adds amusement–a unique, contemporary film. It is similar to Chaplin’s The Kid, but even without The Kid’s pathos and Chaplin’s artistry, it is still well worth watching. IMDB: Sidewalk Stories

Magnificent Doll (1946)

Ginger RogersDavid NivenBurgess Meredith

Dolley’s father forces her into an arranged marriage, and, as a result, she willfully hates her husband. After the death of her husband and child, she becomes the toast of Washington and the object of the most powerful politicians. She vows to truly love the next man she marries. This film is a political romance with Dolley looking for love and fulfillment among Washington’s most powerful men. She proves to be their equal intellectually and politically. I’ve seen many Ginger Rogers films, and I’ve enjoyed them all. Some are frivolous and entertaining, some are musical and entertaining, and some are dramatic and entertaining. This movie is powerful and provides historical background to an intense drama. Just as Dolley’s intellect and influence equalled the politicians of her time, Rogers’ performance equals the skill of the other stellar actors in the cast. Some movies I can’t wait to end, but with Magnificent Doll, I wanted it to continue beyond “The End.” Captivating, entertaining, and a Rogers tour de force. Must see viewing. IMDB: Magnificent Doll

The January Man (1989)

Kevin KlineMary Elizabeth MastrantonioSusan Sarandon

Firefighter hero tracks down a serial killer. This film is standard thriller fare. There’s a murder in the first minute of the film, and then the action comes to a dead stop. Slow-paced until mid-way through the film when the action and the interest picks up to make the film interesting enough to watch.  IMDB: The January Man

 MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

OCTOBER, 2017 POST

The Bridge at Remagen (1969)

George SegalRobert VaughnBen GazzaraE.G. Marshall, Bradford Dillman

The last, remaining bridge over the Rhine—the Germans want to blow it up to prevent the Allies from using it to easily cross into Germany, even though they will strand many German soldiers on the wrong side of the bridge. The Allies want to save the bridge for easy crossing into Germany. Most war movies include scenes that do not advance the plot, and even though this film includes such scenes (the captured French girl in the farm house with gratuitous semi-nudity, idle soldier chatter, etc.), there are a minimum of such scenes in this film. There’s a lot of action, and a lot of five-star explosions. This is a well-done war film and well worth watching. IMDB: The Bridge at Remagen

The Devil’s Brigade (1968)

William HoldenCliff RobertsonVince Edwards , Claude AkinsRichard Dawson

A polished, professional squad of Canadian soldiers report to camp in perfect formation with bagpipes playing. An American squad reports to camp roughhousing, slovenly and undisciplined.They train together for an important mission. Most of the film takes place in camp with the factions training for their mission—competitions, hijinks, silliness. A lot of humor through the first 3/4 of the film with the hard-core action coming during the mission in the last 1/4. An interesting viewing experience. IMDB: The Devil’s Brigade

Are You Listening? (1932)

William HainesMadge EvansAnita PageJoan MarshWallace Ford

Bill’s wife is a shrew, but his girlfriend is an angel. How will Bill resolve a problematic love life? This film is a well-done PreCode with pretty girls and adult themes. It moves quickly and entertains. When tragedy strikes near the end of the film, the pace accelerates and the interest intensifies. Well worth watching. IMDB: Are You Listening?

The Tip-Off (1931)

Eddie QuillanRobert ArmstrongGinger RogersJoan Peers

Radio repair man, Tommy, is terrified at being shamelessly pursued by the mistress of a jealous prize fighter, but then he falls in love with the girlfriend of the local mob boss. This PreCode romantic comedy/crime drama is engaging, humorous and entertaining. A highlight of the film is the featured performance of 20-year-old Ginger Rogers. Light, enjoyable entertainment. IMDB: The Tip-Off

Why Be Good? (1929)

Colleen MooreNeil HamiltonBodil Rosing

Wealthy Winthrop meets a girl at a club. She was the life of the party and the center of everyone’s attention. She’s hot, she’s beautiful, she’s flirty, she’s a dance contest winner—the ultimate flapper. He was instantly infatuated. The next morning Winthrop starts work as the Personnel Director at his father’s department store where there are rules against dating the employees. (The store has over 1000 female employees.) One of his first acts as Personnel Director is to discipline a tardy sales girl—surprisingly, the girl he’d met the night before. Her father thinks she’s a strumpet for accepting expensive gifts from a rich boyfriend. His father thinks she’s a tramp because she’s a working girl. The plot centers on whether or not she’s a “good” girl.

This silent film is fascinating. Plenty of beautiful flappers throwing around a lot of Jazz Age slang and partying hard. It’s a close look at dating, partying, and the social mores of the time. It’s a great peek into the Roaring Twenties. The soundtrack is jazzy and amusing. Colleen Moore as “Pert” is beautiful and utterly irresistible. This film is highly entertaining and must see viewing. IMDB: Why Be Good?

Day of Reckoning (1933)

Richard DixMadge EvansConway Tearle, Una Merkel, Stuart ErwinGeorge ‘Spanky’ McFarland

Wealthy businessman, John Day, is sent to prison for two years for embezzlement, leaving behind a beautiful wife and two young children. He hears stories of wives not being faithful while their husbands are in prison, and he has reason to worry about his wife. This film is entertaining with a lot of action, suspense, romance and conflict. Spunky Una Merkel plays a pivotal role and adds panache to the film as the maid. Well worth watching. IMDB: Day of Reckoning

Westfront 1918 (1930)

Fritz KampersGustav DiesslHans-Joachim Möbis

This silent film gives a realistic portrayal of warfare in the trenches and hardship on the home front during The Great War—from the German perspective. No glorification of war in this film. Gripping drama. Very well done. This is a German film by G. W. Pabst, and is well worth watching. IMDB: Westfront 1918

Cry Danger (1951)

Dick PowellRhonda FlemingRichard Erdman

Rocky is released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The action focuses on Rocky trying to track down who framed him and how to get his friend, still in prison, released. This is a routine film noir with with Dick Powell and Rhonda Fleming doing well in their roles, but the film moves slowly and there is not enough action/suspense to make this a standout noir. You can pass on this one without missing much. IMDB: Cry Danger

The Buccaneer (1938)

Fredric MarchFranciska GaalAkim TamiroffWalter BrennanAnthony Quinn

The adventures of the pirate, Jean Lafitte, and his involvement in the War of 1812. Elaborate sets, great costuming, plenty of action, romance, humor. This is a Cecile B. DeMille production done on a grand scale. More romance than most pirate film fans care for, but this is a good adventure movie with enough action to please any viewer. The scene that stands out most vividly for me is a heart-wrenching scene when the ship’s captain makes the beautiful, child-like Gretchen walk the plank. In fact, Franciska Gaal, as Gretchen, highlights this film with her feminine touch, with romance and with humor. Well worth watching. IMDB: The Buccaneer

The Buccaneer (1958)

Yul BrynnerClaire BloomCharles BoyerInger StevensE.G. MarshallCharlton HestonLorne Greene

Jean LaFitte’s involvement in the War of 1812, in pirating, and in romance constitute the plot for this film. Glorious color, amazing costumes and great sets, but too many silly fights and poor acting—seriously, too many actors are stiff and unnatural. Brynner, Heston and Stevens are particularly disappointing. Claire Bloom, however, is outstanding. Not as much pirating and action as adventure film fans would expect, and the entertainment value for this film is average.  IMDB: The Buccaneer

MOVIES: RARE AND SELDOM-SEEN

SEPTEMBER, 2017 POST

The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933)

Douglas Fairbanks Jr.Loretta YoungAline MacMahon

Champion prizefighter Jimmy slugs a reporter and accidentally kills him. To beat the rap, he goes into hiding and changes his identity. Loretta Young plays the cool, calm, beautiful girlfriend and balances out the hot-headed Jimmy. Any movie with Loretta Young is interesting, the plot of this movie is intriguing, and the film moves quickly. Good entertainment. IMDB: The Life of Jimmy Dolan

My Dear Secretary (1948)

Laraine DayKirk DouglasKeenan Wynn 

A famous author keeps hiring and losing beautiful secretaries until he hires one he falls in love with and marries. Turns out she’s a better writer than he is. Unfortunately, this comedy strains to get laughs and falls flat. Keenan Wynn is annoying. If you’re looking to see the worst film Kirk Douglas made, this could be it. Laraine Day performs well, and is a bright spot in the film. The best part of the film, though, is “The End.” IMDB: My Dear Secretary

Sensations of 1945 (1944)

Eleanor PowellDennis O’KeefeC. Aubrey Smith, W. C. Fields, Sophie Tucker, Cab Calloway, Woody Herman, The Les Paul Trio

This paper-thin plot features an actress who continues to come up with publicity stunts that don’t turn out as expected. The plot is an excuse to present singing, dancing, and circus acts of the time. Historically, this film is interesting in that the viewer has a chance to see many of the popular stars and acts of the period. Low point—W. C. Field’s totally unfunny skit. Oddity—the tap dancing horse. High points—Eleanor Powell and the singing and dancing acts. Entertaining enough to watch. IMDB: Sensations of 1945

Ship of Lost Men (1929)

Fritz KortnerMarlene DietrichRobin Irvine

The plane of a rich socialite crashes in the ocean. She is rescued by a ship with a crew of sex-crazed, drunken, mutineers. The conflict revolves around whether she can survive among these thugs. This is an historically significant German silent starring Marlene Dietrich. The film is well-done but predictable and moderately entertaining. IMDB: Ship of Lost Men

The Undesirable (1915)

Lili BerkyVictor VarconiMari Jászai

A dying old man tells his daughter that he is not her father. Her father was an old, overbearing man killed by his suffering wife. The daughter is told that her mother is in prison or dead. When the old man dies, the young girl has to make her own way in the world-a harsh, cruel world. This film is a stage play transferred to the screen. The acting is stilted, and the story is simple. The film is watchable. IMDB: The Undesirable

Anna Karenina (1935)

Greta GarboFredric MarchFreddie BartholomewMaureen O’SullivanBasil RathboneReginald OwenJoan MarshMay Robson.

Wealthy, aristocratic and beautiful Anna lives a loveless marriage. She falls in love with the dashing Vronski and must choose between passionate love and giving up everything—including her young son.  This film is an abbreviated version of the ponderous classic novel, but it hits the highpoints of the plot and tells the story well. This is a well-crafted film, but there are some lapses in acting and there is no heat, no natural passion between Garbo and March—basic weakness in the film. However, the movie stars Garbo, and her classic beauty, her expression, and her incomparable screen presence make this film must see viewing. IMDB: Anna Karenina

The Affair (1973)

Natalie WoodRobert WagnerBruce Davison

Handsome, divorced lawyer, Marcus pursues 32-year-old Courtney, who is crippled and on crutches. She’s insecure, but he’s older and persistent. They have an affair and move in together, but can their romance succeed? It’s hard to find anything positive to write about this movie.The plot is not well-developed or interesting. There are awkward pauses throughout the film, and the acting is abominable. Simply a very bad movie. IMDB: The Affair

Anna Karenina (1967)

Tatyana SamoylovaNikolai GritsenkoVasiliy Lanovoy

Rich and beautiful Anna falls in love with the dashing soldier, Vronsky and must choose between true love and her husband and child. This Russian film features great cinematography with colorful costumes and beautiful scenery. Visually stunning. Well-done film with good acting. The film at times races through parts of the novel’s plot with little nuance or detail. It’s interesting to see a Russian-made version of the classic Russian novel. Worth watching. IMDB: Anna Karenina

Variety (1983)

Sandy McLeodWill PattonRichard M. Davidson

A young girl, desperate for a job, starts work as a ticket taker at an adult movie theater. She becomes intrigued by the seamy underbelly of the sex world in New York and becomes increasingly involved. This film has the production value of a home movie, but the movie is intriguing. Slow moving and focused on details, suspense keeps this film interesting. Worth watching. IMDB: Variety

Tchaikovsky (1970)

Innokentiy SmoktunovskiyAntonina Shuranova,Kirill Lavrov

This film is a Russian biopic of Tchaikovsky from childhood to death. (In Russian with English subtitles.) The film features people important and influential in his life as well as his musical masterpieces. The film portrays Tchaikovsky as a troubled soul living only for his music and maintaining no socially conventional relationships with others. This is a cinematically and musically beautiful film. It features Tchaikovsky’s music throughout, with an emphasis on his operas. This is an important, interesting, and well-done film. Highly recommended. IMDB: Tchaikovsky

633 Squadron (1964)

Cliff RobertsonGeorge ChakirisMaria Perschy

A bomber squadron practices for the big mission scheduled to take place in a Norwegian fjord. This film is a standard war drama with good aerial scenes and quite a bit of action. There are several subplots—captured airman, love interests, bar scenes. Nothing spectacular, but interesting enough to watch. IMDB: 633 Squadron

MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

AUGUST, 2017 POST

[Too Much Vacation; Too Few Movies]

Marked Woman (1937)

Bette DavisHumphrey BogartLola Lane

The mob takes over the night clubs in town, and the hostesses are enslaved in a system they can’t escape. The mob boss has those who don’t cooperate killed, and others fear talking to authorities. Bette Davis plays dramatic roles so well, and, although it’s not one of her best roles, she’s  captivating. Bogart is solid as the DA. This is an engrossing film throughout and well worth watching. IMDB: Marked Woman

Madame Bovary (1949)

Jennifer JonesJames MasonVan Heflin

Beautiful, young farm girl falls in love with the concept of love she finds in romance novels and marries the local doctor. Her life is not as satisfying as she had wished, and she seeks the romance and excitement she misses in her marriage. Top stars and top talent in this film, and the movie is dramatic and entertaining—over-dramatic and over-acted at times. Still, this is a good movie. If you are interested in dramatizations of classic literary works, this is an excellent movie to view. IMDB: Madame Bovary

The Major and the Minor (1942)

Ginger RogersRay MillandRita Johnson 

Susan fails at a career in New York City and decides to return home. She doesn’t have enough money for train fare, so she impersonates an 11-year-old in order to purchase a half-fare ticket. Fleeing the conductors on the train, who suspect her deception, she ducks into Major Kirby’s state room. He feels compassion for this little girl, and takes her under his wing. Complications multiply. Ginger Rogers is exceptional in this breezy comedy, and Ray Milland is appropriately gallant. They play off each other well. The only negatives are that some viewers may not buy into a 31-year-old actress playing an 11/12-year-old little girl or the fact that Major Kirby sets little “Sue Sue” up on dates with high school boys at his military school. Other than that, this is an incredibly engaging comedy with the versatile Ginger Rogers delivering a stellar performance. This is a film one can sit back and thoroughly enjoy. I have to rate this chucklefest must see viewing. IMDB: The Major and the Minor

Brewster’s Millions (1985)

Richard PryorJohn CandyLonette McKee

A wealthy relative dies and leaves Brewster 300 million dollars IF he can spend 30 million in 30 days without telling anyone why he’s spending. Richard Pryor is one of the funniest comedians ever, and he plays comedy and pathos well in this film. It’s a straightforward comedy with John Candy generating extra laughs. It’s well worth watching if you’re in the mood for light comedic fare. IMDB: Brewster’s Millions

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)

Ingrid BergmanRobert DonatCurd Jürgens

Based on a true story from the 1930s, Gladys Aylward is a poor English woman who is determined to be a missionary in China despite the impossible conditions and the threat of war. Although this film may be too long and drawn out for contemporary tastes, it is well done and spectacular in its scope. The movie is a truly inspiring story of a woman of substance who perseveres, changes lives, and saves lives through courage and grit. Well worth watching. IMDB: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness

The Paleface (1948)

Bob HopeJane RussellRobert Armstrong

Dentist Painless Potter has a history of getting run out of town for incompetence. Calamity Jane is on a government mission to identify those smuggling guns to the Indians and chooses Painless as a patsy to pose as her husband in the wagon train west. This film is a good comedy featuring Bob Hope in his typical role as a bumbler who always comes out on top. Fast-paced with truly funny bits, this is a comedy well worth watching. IMDB: The Paleface

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1942)

Roger LiveseyDeborah KerrAnton Walbrook

This film focuses on the life of a soldier over a 40-year period—his exploits, friendships, and romances. Filmed during WWII, this film is viewed by some as a classic. It’s a comedy/drama/romance/war movie with a why-we-fight theme, but I could not get into this movie. The comedy in this British film falls flat in most cases with only a few chuckles. There is no straight narrative since the plot flashbacks to different time periods in the life of the main character. A positive is that it is beautifully filmed in Technicolor, and Deborah Kerr is engaging in the three roles she plays. In the opinion of a casual viewer, though, I feel I wasted  nearly three hours of my life. [It’s a long film.] IMDB: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Framed (1930)

Evelyn BrentRegis ToomeyRalf Harolde 

Rose’s gangster father is killed in a shootout by the cops, and she vows revenge against the police inspector. She gets her chance when the inspector’s son visits the casino where she works and falls in love with her. The inspector tries to frame Rose, Rose’s casino owner boyfriend tries to frame her, but the ultimate frame-up comes at the climax of the film. This is a poorly acted, amateurish PreCode crime film with an interesting plot—which makes it watchable. IMDB: Framed

The Pay-Off (1930)

Lowell ShermanMarian NixonHugh Trevor

Young sweethearts sleeping on a park bench after midnight are robbed of their wedding money by a rich racketeer walking through the park. Later, wearing masks, they enter the racketeer’s night club to re-rob him of their stolen money. He’s among other gangsters, and the mob boss rescues them from their failed robbery attempt, sets them up in a nice apartment, and promises them jobs. Why? He’s fallen in love with the teenage girl. This is a light-weight PreCode crime drama with competent acting and and interesting story line. Entertaining. IMDB: The Pay-Off

MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

JULY, 2017 POST

Painted Veil (1934)

Greta GarboHerbert MarshallGeorge Brent

A beautiful woman marries a doctor and finds that the doctor loves his profession more than he loves her. His absence feeds her loneliness and desire for romance. This film features imaginative, elaborate Chinese costuming and pageantry. It’s a slow moving romance, but Garbo’s screen presence is so strong, that alone carries the movie. Mildly interesting but a must for Garbo fans. IMDB: Painted Veil

Strangers May Kiss (1931)

Norma ShearerRobert MontgomeryNeil Hamilton

Jilted Lisbeth feels she can live as freely as the philandering men. She becomes very popular. This is standard pre-Code fare. Mildly interesting story with good acting. An interesting glimpse of the era of early talkies. Watchable. IMDB: Strangers May Kiss

Dark Hazard (1934)

Edward G. RobinsonGenevieve TobinGlenda Farrell

Compulsive gambler, Jim, marries and tries to go straight. Interesting domestic drama with Robinson as the loving husband who tries to get his life together. Good drama worth watching. IMDB: Dark Hazard

Hi, Nellie! (1934)

Paul MuniGlenda FarrellNed Sparks

Newspaper columnist is saddled with the advice column but eventually gets his big break with a local corruption case. Muni and Farrell play well off each other in this film filled with sarcastic banter. There is decent acting but a weak script. Watchable but a waste of Muni’s talent. IMDB: Hi, Nellie!

Road to Paradise (1931)

Loretta YoungJack MulhallRaymond Hatton

Mary discovers in a restaurant her identical twin. Because her twin is wealthy, her companions decide to rob her mansion when she’s out using Mary as a substitute decoy. This is a simple story heaped in suspense concerning Mary being discovered. Loretta Young plays dual roles in this film. She is fascinating to watch, and doubly fascinating when she plays twins. You’ll enjoy this lightweight but thoroughly engaging film. IMDB: Road to Paradise

Week-End Marriage (1932)

Loretta YoungNorman FosterAline MacMahon

Ken’s reluctant to marry Lola because he doesn’t make enough to support her properly, but Lola connives him into marriage and makes him promise to let her work to help out. Turns out she’s much more successful than he, and that creates a serious conflict. Loretta Young is beautiful and an accomplished actress. If she stars, the movie is well worth watching. This film is a fascinating look at the conflict women of the time face between being independent or taking the role of devoted wife and mother confined to the home. The end of the film may be a moral for the times, but will disappoint modern sensibilities. This movie is an enjoyable viewing experience, and I consider it must see viewing. IMDB: Week-End Marriage

Daughter of Shanghai (1937)

Anna May WongCharles BickfordBuster Crabbe

Ruthless smugglers traffic in Chinese immigrants and make big money forcing businesses to pay for their illegals. Anna May Wong tries to track down the smugglers who had killed her father. Anna May Wong is a beautiful, accomplished actress and dancer. One, maybe the only, highlight of the film is a dance she does in a saloon. This film is standard crime drama fare and is only of interest if you appreciate Anna May Wong in a starring role. IMDB: Daughter of Shanghai

Dishonored (1931)

Marlene DietrichVictor McLaglenGustav von Seyffertitz

Harlot Marie attracts the head of the spy agency in Austria and cleverly has him arrested as a spy. Realizing her potential, he then recruits her to spy for Austria. Using her beauty and her body, she is very successful. The final scene of the movie is classic Dietrich, and is well worth the price of admission. Although this film has its weak moments, von Sternberg’s powerful, creative directing is evident throughout the movie, and Dietrich’s beauty and amazing screen presence make this a film worth watching. IMDB: Dishonored

And Justice for All (1979)

Al PacinoJack WardenJohn Forsythe

A lawyer is blackmailed into defending a hard-nosed judge accused of rape. I was looking forward to this film because it stars Pacino and sounded like a good courtroom drama. It’s a mess. There are comedic scenes which aren’t that funny, and there are so many subplots the viewer never knows where the plot is going next. The climax is unrealistic and falls flat. A big disappointment. IMDB: And Justice for All

Shanghai Express (1932)

Marlene DietrichClive BrookAnna May Wong

A train trip aboard the Shanghai Express in the midst of a civil war focuses on the intrigue and romance surrounding the notorious courtesan, Shanghai Lily. This is a simple film that starts slowly but builds in suspense and interest. Dietrich is superb, the cinematography enhances Dietrich’s beauty and mystique, and von Sternberg’s direction makes this film a classic. There are many excellent Dietrich films, but this is quintessential Dietrich and must see viewing. IMDB: Shanghai Express

Possessed (1947)

Joan CrawfordClark GableWallace Ford

Rural factory worker Marion yearns for a better life, and on the invitation of a rich drunk moves to New York to do whatever it takes to have the life she wants. When she arrives, the drunk doesn’t even remember her, but she seeks other wealthy men and lives as a kept woman for a man she loves but who will not marry her. This is a great pairing of Joan Crawford and Clark Gable early in their talking picture careers. Poignant story, great acting, creative cinematography. Although not a classic, I’d rate this as must seeviewing. IMDB: Possessed

Smilin’ Through (1941)

Jeanette MacDonaldBrian AherneGene Raymond

A child in England loses her parents and is raised by her uncle, who adores her. As a young woman she enters a taboo romance with an American soldier going off to war. The uncle, hiding family secrets, forbids her to see the soldier once he finds out about the romance. This is a beautiful movie filmed in technicolor with colorful costumes and settings. The story starts slowly but increases steadily in interest. There is good acting, intense emotions, and inspiring singing by Macdonald. If you’re in the mood for a classic romance, this is an excellent choice. It’s a full-box-of-tissues experience. IMDB: Smilin’ Through

Blood Money (1933)

George BancroftJudith AndersonFrances Dee

Bail bondsman, Bill Bailey, makes it big taking advantage of others. When he’s torn between two girls, one girl’s jealously may ruin him. This film is a routine crime drama with substandard acting and a mediocre story. It’s watchable but not worth the effort. IMDB: Blood Money

Penthouse (1933)

Warner BaxterMyrna LoyCharles Butterworth

Lawyer for the defense, Jackson, thrills at winning a case for a gangster, but his law firm fires him and his girlfriend dumps him. He later uses the gangster’s network to help him solve a murder his ex-girlfriend’s fiancee is convicted of committing. This is a witty, fast-paced crime drama/murder mystery with Myrna Loy teaming up with Warner Baxter in a pairing similar to her later roles as William Powell’s partner in the Thin Man series. No classic here, but a fun movie to watch with Loy as the center of everyone’s attention. IMDB: Penthouse

Pleasure Cruise (1933)

Genevieve TobinRoland YoungRalph Forbes

A wife in a stale marriage suggests separate vacations. She chooses a pleasure cruise, and he chooses a fishing trip. He, however, secretly takes the cruise as a barber’s assistant in order to spy on her. This is as light a fare as you’re likely to see. Fluff. Mildly interesting and watchable, but the most (or maybe only) point of interest is the watchability of Genevieve Tobin. IMDB: Pleasure Cruise

Lucky Star (1929)

Janet GaynorCharles FarrellGuinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams

Young teen, Mary, works the family farm with her abusive mother. When she falls in love with the neighbor, who’s a crippled war vet, her mother refuses to let her see him again because she doesn’t want Mary to waste her time on a cripple. Meanwhile, the local rogue stalks Mary. Janet Gaynor plays the teen role well, much as Mary Pickford played child/teen roles. This is a sweet, sad story and a well-crafted silent. Great directing and beautiful cinematography. The emotion and suspense will keep you focused on this film. The Gaynor/Farrell matchup is perfect, and this film is must see viewing. IMDB: Lucky Star

They Had to See Paris (1929)

Will RogersIrene RichOwen Davis Jr.

Pike hits it big with his oil well investment, and his wife insists the family tour Paris for culture. Pike doesn’t fit in at all in Paris, and his family fractures. This is an early talkie with very awkward and amateurish acting. Some historical interest in the cars of the time, the fashion of the time, and some exterior shots of Paris. The draw in this film is Will Rogers, but you’ll come away from this film with a negative impression of Rogers. Skip this one. IMDB: They Had to See Paris

Piccadilly (1929)

Gilda GrayAnna May WongJameson Thomas

A London nightclub owner sees the Chinese scullery maid, Shosho, dancing in front of the other maids and fires her for goofing off and distracting the other maids. When business tails off, he hires her to bring an exotic act into the club. Her success fires jealousy in the featured dancer, and tension becomes central to the plot. This movie starts out slow and has some slow scenes. The modern soundtrack and title cards don’t quite fit a movie from the 20s, BUT when Anna May Wong becomes more prominent in the plot, the film sizzles. Her dance in the night club is the highlight of the film. Anna May Wong could not get leading roles in America because the studios would not feature a Chinese woman as a leading lady. She, therefore, went to Europe and was able to get leading lady parts. This film is one of her most successful and features her talent and beauty. Although the film is  very good but not great, Anna May Wong’s performance is classic. This is must see viewing for her talent and beauty alone. IMDB: Piccadilly

A Face in the Fog (1936)

June CollyerLloyd HughesLawrence Gray

A fiend terrifies the city by killing one person after another. This is a “B” movie which should actually be a “D.” It’s horrible. The acting is primitive and awkward. The fight scenes desperately need stunt doubles. The plot is silly and clichéd. Viewing this movie may seriously damage precious brain cells. Don’t go near it. IMDB: A Face in the Fog

 MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

JUNE, 2017 POST

The Affairs of Annabel (1938)

Jack OakieLucille BallRuth Donnelly

Studio publicist puts movie star Annabel in demanding publicity stunts to publicize her upcoming movies. One stunt gets her involved with killers. This film is a first-rate comedy with Oakie and Ball at their best. There are so many little bits of business that elicit laughs, I have the urge to immediately watch the film again. You will enjoy this movie. IMDB: The Affairs of Annabel

La vérité (The Truth) (1960)

Brigitte BardotPaul MeurisseCharles Vanel

Teen Dominique is the opposite of her perfect older sister. She fails in school, is rebellious, fights with her parents, and is promiscuous. She succeeds, however, in mesmerizing her sister’s boyfriend. And then there’s a murder. This film goes back and forth between courtroom drama and flashbacks of action leading up to the murder. This is a fascinating movie that is engrossing from beginning to end. High drama, lots of action, and suspense. Bardot is at her best. Her acting is mostly outstanding punctuated with a few weak moments. But Bardot and the film itself are classic. If you see only one Bardot film, I would recommend this one. It is must seeviewing. IMDB: La Verite

King and Country (1964)

Dirk BogardeTom CourtenayLeo McKern

A British soldier in World War I walks away from his unit and is tried for desertion. Although this film has some explosive dramatic moments, it is all talk in British English. Slow moving, dreary. I challenge you to stay awake during this snooze fest. IMDB: King and Country

Boomerang (1947)

Dana AndrewsJane WyattLee J. Cobb

A pastor is shot to death in broad daylight in the middle of town. A number of suspects are considered, but the police are convinced they have their man. Political pressure is put on the state’s attorney to convict the accused, but he is not convinced the man on trial in guilty. This is a good, true crime/courtroom drama. Clever script with good acting. Nothing spectacular, but a good viewing experience. IMDB: Boomerang

A Dry White Season (1989)

Donald SutherlandJanet SuzmanZakes Mokae, Susan Sarandon, Marlon Brando

The whites live separately from the blacks in South Africa, and once Ben, a white, middle class school teacher with a family, fully understands the horrors of apartheid, he involves himself in the struggle. This is a brutal movie with explicit displays of the torture and murder of blacks of all ages—including children and the complicit behavior of the whites in supporting the criminal behavior of the authorities. The movie certainly makes its point about apartheid, but its a sluggish story with explosive moments of violence and a few horrifying scenes. Sutherland shows no passion and seriously underplays his part. Sarandon has only a bit part in the film, and Brando returns from retirement to play a courtroom lawyer for a few scenes of the movie. Entertainment value is average. IMDB: A Dry White Season

The Enforcer (1951)

Humphrey BogartZero MostelTed de Corsia

DA Bogart is frustrated in trying to get witnesses to testify at the trial of a mob boss. This is an above average crime drama with an interesting build up to a clever conclusion. Bogart is great in his tough guy role, and Zero Mostel adds interest in his role as a fat flunky trying to make it in the mob. Very entertaining and worth watching. IMDB: The Enforcer

The Juror (1996)

Demi MooreAlec BaldwinJoseph Gordon-LevittAnne Heche

Demi Moore serves on a jury to put away a mob boss, but Baldwin terrorizes her into giving a ‘not guilty’ verdict. The terror doesn’t stop after the trial. This is Baldwin at his most psychotic and most clever. Moore is solid in her role. This is a thriller that moves quickly with plenty of action and extreme violence. If you like suspense and thrillers, this is for you. Must see viewing. IMDB: The Juror

Rules of Engagement (2000)

Tommy Lee JonesSamuel L. JacksonGuy PearceBen Kingsley

Colonel Childers is on trial for not following the rules of engagement when under fire at the embassy in Yemen resulting in the deaths of many demonstrators, including women and children. This is an excellent action/war movie and tense courtroom drama. The film is well worth watching. IMDB: Rules of Engagement

Devil’s Advocate (1997)

Keanu ReevesAl PacinoCharlize Theron

Southern lawyer wins all his cases and becomes wrapped up only in himself and his success. When he joins a New York law firm, everything gets turned upside down. Clutch-the-chair-arm thriller. Intensely interesting. Great entertainment. IMDB: Devil’s Advocate

Murder in the First (1995)

Christian SlaterKevin BaconGary Oldman

Lawyer Slater defends Alcatraz prisoner Bacon who tried to escape and was held in solitary and tortured for so long the prison system essentially turned him into a murderer when he subsequently killed a fellow inmate in the cafeteria. This film is based on fact and makes its point about prison abuse. Bacon turns in an admirable performance. The film, however, is one long cliche. Weak acting at times, improbable scenes, uncomfortable scenes, weak script. It’s one of those films during which I kept asking myself, ‘Should I bail on this one?’ Watched it, but I’m not a fan. IMDB: Murder in the First

Sacco e Vanzetti (Sacco & Vanzetti) (1971)

Gian Maria VolontèRiccardo CucciollaCyril Cusack

In the early 20s, the government/police cracked down on labor unions, communists, and immigrants. On circumstantial evidence, Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested for robbery and murders at a shoe factory. The trial was a political sham intended to serve as an example to immigrants and anarchists. This film is a very literate representation of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial and the events prior to and subsequent to the trial. Newsreel footage is interspersed with the dramatic presentation. Issues of police brutality, racism, injustice, and prejudice are well presented. If you have an interest in this case and the circumstances surrounding the issues at the time, this is must see viewing. An exceptional film! IMDB: Sacco e Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti (2006)

Henry FondaArlo GuthrieDavid Kaiser,Studs TerkelJohn Turturro

This is an exceptional documentary covering everything Sacco and Vanzetti. Watching this film will give you a full understanding of their lives and the issues surrounding their arrest and trial. Lots of newsreel footage and still photography along with interviews with relatives, historians, and other experts. IMDB: Sacco and Vanzetti

The Story of Mankind (1957)

Ronald ColmanHedy LamarrGroucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Virginia Mayo, Agnes Moorehead, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Charles Coburn, Cedric Hardwicke, Cesar Romero, John Carradine, Dennis Hopper

The High Council of Outer Space holds a trial to determine whether Man should continue to exist. The devil argues for destruction based on Man’s evil deeds throughout history while the Spirit of Man argues for the continuation of Man based on his many noble deeds throughout history. The arguments are represented by vignettes presenting historical events from the cave man through World War II. There are

colorful costumes, elaborate sets, and many of hollywood’s top stars participate. Although some of scenes are powerfully dramatic, many of the scenes are hokey. The final scene of the film makes a serious point about the state of Mankind throughout history. Few viewers today would sit through this movie. It is interesting to view only as a unique feature and a film curiosity. IMDB: The Story of Mankind

Dear Heart (1964)

Glenn FordGeraldine PageAngela Lansbury

Ditzy, warmhearted, middle-aged Evie attends the Postmasters’ convention in New York and falls in love with a traveling salesman who says he has a wife. This film is slow-moving at first but builds in interest as the film progresses. Edie is one of those characters everyone loves, including the viewer. Kind-hearted, simple, overly courteous to everyone. The movie is an in-depth character study wrapped in a romantic comedy. Some genuine laughs, but this is mostly a tender romance. It’s well worth watching. IMDB: Dear Heart

Autumn Leaves (1956)

Joan CrawfordCliff RobertsonVera MilesLorne GreeneRuth Donnelly

Middle-aged and lonely Millie falls in love with a much younger, lonely man. They impulsively marry. Then things turn crazy. Although Joan Crawford is a good actress, she is not that attractive, and it seems unrealistic that a handsome and much younger man would fall desperately in love with her. This is simply a film of average interest with some melodrama, some good acting, some unrealistic situations, and a soft ending. Worth a watch, but nothing exceptional. IMDB: Autumn Leaves

MOVIES: RARE AND SELDOM-SEEN

MAY, 2017 POST

Midnight (1939)

Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Hedda Hopper, Monty Woolley, Francis Lederer

A penniless beauty arrives in Paris and, because of the kindness of strangers, quickly mingles with the wealthy. A millionaire sets her up in an apartment with clothes, an allowance, and a chauffeur. She rebuffs what she thinks is an immoral proposition, but his intention is for her to lure away his wife’s lover. She is also romantically pursued by a Paris taxi driver. This is a romantic comedy gem! It’s easy to smile your way through the entire film. Colbert is at her absolute best here. She’s beautiful, funny, witty, and delightful. The cast works so well together, and the story is engaging and highly entertaining.  Don’t miss this. It’s must see viewing. IMDB: Midnight

Railroaded! (1947)

John Ireland, Sheila Ryan, Hugh Beaumont

Thieves steal a laundry van, rob a beauty shop, and frame the young driver of the van. The ‘railroaded’ young man is headed for the gas chamber. This is an above-average crime drama with plenty of action, suspense, and even romance. No academy awards here, some weak performances, but a solid film that entertains. IMDB: Railroaded

Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

Glenn Ford, Bette Davis, Hope Lange

Alcoholic street vendor Apple Annie has secretly supported her daughter’s education and travel from a distance, with her daughter believing her mother was a wealthy woman of prominence.
When her daughter returns from Europe with her aristocratic fiancee and his father to meet her mother, the street people pull together to pull off a major ruse. Bette Davis shines, as usual, and this is an early movie for Ann Margret. [Those are the highlights.] The plot is based on a Damon Runyon story, and the Runyonesque characters are colorful. If you’re a fan of Runyon, you will probably like this film, but it’s too long-winded and hokey for contemporary viewers. IMDB: Pocketful of Miracles

Something Wild (1986)

Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, George ‘Red’ Schwartz

Coming out of a restaurant a brash, young girl offers a conservative-type guy a ride. He accepts, and she kidnaps him. He’s in for an incredibly wild time. I didn’t hold much promise for this film when I started watching it, but as it developed, it turned out to be very entertaining. It’s a crime drama, comedy, romance, thriller with nudity, sex, and violence. Worth watching for mindless entertainment—and Griffith is hot. IMDB: Something Wild

Ladies Love Brutes (1930)

George Bancroft, Mary Astor, Fredric March

Wealthy but brutish real estate developer tries to be more refined in order to become a gentleman and fit in with high society. This film started out looking like a comedy, but it turned into a crime drama. Primitive, early talkie with uneven acting all around. [Mary Astor is always solid, however.] The story is interesting, and the movie is very watchable. IMDB: Ladies Love Brutes

Ladies Should Listen (1934)

Cary Grant, Frances Drake, Edward Everett Horton

An apartment complex switchboard operator listens in on the tenants’ calls. She interjects herself into the life of a wealthy bachelor with whom she’s in love. This is a silly farce that moves quickly and is actually fun to watch. Cary Grant is the same in this early film for him as he was in later films—more of a personality than an accomplished actor. The film is mindless fluff but worth a view. IMDB: Ladies Should Listen

Liliom (1930)

Charles Farrell, Rose Hobart, Estelle Taylor

A poor working girl, Julie, rebuffs the interest of a gentlemanly carpenter and, instead, idolizes a womanizing, scamming carousel barker. Against everyone’s advice, she moves in with him and gets pregnant. Worst acting ever, a primitive script, and simple sets, but there’s something fascinating about this film. The empathy one feels for Julie provides the overwhelming interest. (This film actually justifies spousal abuse.) Lots of moralizing at the end. I can see where most viewers would hate this film, but I watched it to the end and didn’t regret it. There is usually some good even in a bad movie. Watch at your own risk. IMDB: Liliom

Alias French Gertie (Love Finds a Way) (1930)

Bebe Daniels, Ben Lyon, Robert Emmett O’Connor

Common girl and thief Gertie works for wealthy families posing as a French maid. She falls for a burglar/safecracker and tries to help him go straight so they can live a normal life together. Competent acting but nothing exceptional with this film. It’s a subpar B movie. There are so many other good movies available, this is not worth viewing. IMDB: Alias French Gertie

Behold My Wife (1934)

Sylvia Sidney, Gene Raymond, Laura Hope Crews

Because wealthy Michael plans on marrying a stenographer, the family feels disgraced and sabotages the marriage. The jilted girl commits suicide, and Michael vows revenge against his family. He sees his opportunity when he meets Tonita, an American Indian who falls in love with him. He marries her and takes her home to meet the family and exact what he believes to be the perfect revenge. This is a cruel plot with a lot of cruel characters. If there’s a moral, it’s that the “white” man is contemptible. Silvia Sydney is beautiful and accomplished in her role as Tonita. The plot moves quickly, and the film  becomes more interesting  the further into it one gets. Although an odd story with cruel intentions as the focus, the film is well worth viewing. IMDB: Behold My Wife

Diary of a Chambermaid (1946)

Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, Hurd Hatfield

Celestine works as a chambermaid but is dismissed or leaves jobs frequently. She sets her sights on improving her situation by taking  advantage of men whenever possible. Paulette Goddard is certainly a glamorous chambermaid in this curious, imaginative drama. It’s of average entertainment value, but it’s more interesting the longer one watches. IMDB: Diary of a Chambermaid

Dramatic School (1938)

Luise Rainer, Paulette Goddard, Alan Marshal, Lana Turner, Ann Rutherford, Hans Conried

Impoverished drama student, Louise, attends school during the day and works in a factory at night. She fantasizes about a wonderful life for herself and spins her fantasies for her peers. Because she’s different, the mean girls try to humiliate her. This is an uneven film, with good acting and interesting conflicts, though. It should be particularly interesting, however, for those interested in the theater or for those fans of Academy Award winning actress Luise Rainer. This film has its good moments and is worth watching. IMDB: Dramatic School

Forbidden Daughters (1927)

Clarice Conwell, Gladys DeLores, Kathryn Kay

Alva receives a telegram that her husband has been located in Africa and is being held captive by a native girl. Alva travels to Africa to find and reclaim her husband. This silent film has an improbable, goofy plot with subpar acting. This movie, however, features full nudity, nearly throughout the entire film. It’s worth watching only as a curiosity. IMDB: Forbidden Daughters

I am Suzanne (1933)

Lilian Harvey, Gene Raymond, Leslie Banks

A puppeteer falls in love with the star of a musical review, but her agent also has designs on her. This is a unique movie in that it combines drama, romance, singing, dancing and puppetry. Some lavish musical set pieces as well as lavish marionette performances. The puppetry is incredibly artistic and imaginative. Acting and dancing are uneven, but Lilian Harvey’s singing is enchanting. It took me a while to get into this film, but the longer I viewed, the more engaged I became. It’s a one-of-a-kind production and worth seeing for its uniqueness. IMDB: I am Suzanne

Kitty (1945)

Paulette Goddard, Ray Milland, Patric Knowles

In 18th century London, while getting out of his carriage, the painter, Gainsborough, has his shoes stolen by a guttersnipe. When she’s captured, he sees she has natural beauty and has her pose for a portrait. His friend sees the potential in her to help him gain status in society and boost his career. He then trains her as Henry Higgins trained Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion. This is a standard romantic comedy/costume drama with good acting and an interesting story. Nothing extraordinary, except Paulette Goddard, but well worth watching. IMDB: Kitty

The Night Before the Divorce (1942)

Lynn Bari, Mary Beth Hughes, Joseph Allen

A husband can no longer tolerate his ‘perfect’ wife, falls in love with a conniving young woman, and files for divorce. The wife then connives to win back her husband. This is a cute screwball comedy with twists and turns that serves as light entertainment. Worth watching. IMDB: The Night Before the Divorce

The World Accuses (1934)

Vivian Tobin, Dickie Moore, Cora Sue Collins

A mother-in-law who supports her son and his wife and her grandson insists her son choose between being supported by her or separating from his wife, whom she despises. Subsequently, the husband is killed and the mother-in-law gets custody of the child. This is a B movie with cute kids, an improbable plot with too many coincidences, and subpar acting. If you can cringe your way through the acting, the movie is watchable. IMDB: The World Accuses

Three Girls About Town (1941)

Joan Blondell, John Howard, Binnie Barnes, Robert Benchley

Two girls work as hostesses in a convention hotel. Complications arise when a body is discovered in their adjoining room. This is a witty, fast-paced comedy with standouts Blondell and Benchley. Lively entertainment. IMDB: Three Girls About Town                                                 

Night World (1932)

Lew Ayres, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff                                                                 

The varied life in a night club and the many relationships and entanglements. The entire movie takes place in the club with a ruthless manager, cheating girlfriends, drunken patrons, and murderous gangsters. Plenty of alcohol, pretty girls, legs, dancing, singing, gangsters, violence. This is a simple Pre-code drama, but it holds the viewer’s interest and is worth watching. IMDB: Night World

Our Betters (1933)

Constance Bennett, Violet Kemble Cooper, Phoebe Foster, Anita Louise

A young American girl intent on being an adoring wife marries British royalty. On her wedding day she spies her new husband with his mistress. She then determines to be scandalous herself and become a powerful socialite. Power becomes more important than love. This is a well done drawing room drama with many conflicts and interesting twists, but there may be too much idle chatter for many viewers. Nonetheless, it’s interesting enough to provide light entertainment. IMDB: Our Betters

MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

APRIL, 2017 POST

Drive a Crooked Road (1954)

Mickey Rooney, Dianne Foster, Kevin McCarthy

Auto mechanic and race car driver, Eddie Shannon, is groomed by a beautiful woman to be the driver for a bank heist. Mickey Rooney, famous for his musicals and comedies, plays a straight dramatic role to perfection in this film. Although slow moving in parts, there is plenty of drama, suspense and action to make this a worthy addition to the film noir genre. This taut film makes good viewing. IMDB: Drive a Crooked Road

Tight Spot (1955)

Ginger Rogers, Edward G. Robinson, Brian Keith

The district attorney takes prison inmate, Sherry Conley, to a fancy hotel under heavy guard. He tries to convince her to testify against a mobster while also protecting her life. There are a few interesting subplots in this well-done film noir. Acting in this film varies but is generally good. Ginger Rogers was probably not the best choice for this role. She seems to be working too hard to play the prison inmate with a rough past. The story is suspenseful, and this slightly above average movie is worth watching. IMDB: Tight Spot

My Little Girl (1986)

James Earl Jones, Geraldine Page, Mary Stuart Masterson

Rich girl goes to work in a shelter for homeless girls. She faces resistance from all around her and becomes too emotionally involved with the girls. This is a well-intentioned film, and Masterson is usually a solid actress, but she’s not at her best here. The movie is clichéd and boring. IMDB: My Little Girl

Romeo and Juliet (1936)

Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore

Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard star in this version of the famous play, which is faithful to the original plot and dialogue. Sword fights, elaborate sets and costumes highlight this film. Howard is an accomplished actor, and Shearer…not so much. Both stars are too old for their parts. [Big mistake.] This is an average presentation of, perhaps, the most famous play ever written. View, instead, the much better 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. IMDB: Romeo and Juliet

ZouZou (1934)

Josephine Baker, Jean Gabin, Pierre Larquey

Circus sideshow barker raises a boy and girl abandoned by their parents. The grown boy joins the Navy and then works in the theater. The girl, ZouZou, becomes a laundress. She delivers laundry to the theater, becomes discovered, and becomes the star of a musical review. This dramedy showcases the legendary Josephine Baker’s talent as a comedienne, actress, singer and dancer. It’s a treat to watch Baker in a film that is entertaining and historical. The movie is in French with subtitles and is worth viewing. IMDB: ZouZou

Confession (1937)

Kay Francis, Basil Rathbone, Ian Hunter

The movie is a scene-by-scene mirror image of the 1935 German film “Mazurka,” which was based on actual events in Europe. An opera star is pursued by a womanizing musician who ruins her marriage. The opera star seeks revenge and goes on trial for her actions. This is a fascinating story with good acting and intrigue throughout. Viewing “Confession” is time well spent. IMDB: Confession

Dark City (1950)

Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Viveca Lindfors

Bookies and card sharks get in trouble with the law and there’s messy infighting among the crooks. There’s a love interest and also a murderer knocking off one crook after another. This is a so-so noir with mediocre acting and a simple story. Heston is unlikable as a stiff, stoic, and Scott is unlikable as a clingy, needy wannabe girlfriend. This is Heston’s first starring role. If you have to see all the noir films, watch this, but there are far better noirs to view. IMDB: Dark City

Silver Lode (1954)

John Payne, Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea

A marshall and his deputies come to town to arrest a respected citizen on his wedding day for the murder of the marshall’s brother. This a great western with tension from beginning to end. It’s focus is mob mentality. Good acting, a good story, and plenty of action. If you’re a western fan or just a fan of good movies, this is must see viewing.  IMDB: Silver Lode

Tender is the Night (1962)

Jennifer Jones, Jason Robards, Joan Fontaine

Rich expatriates on the French Riviera. Psychiatrist, Dick Diver falls in love with his fabulously wealthy, extremely beautiful, and psychotic patient. Beautiful scenery, beautiful people, and a complicated love story. The film is uneven, and I have a hard time with Jason Robards as a romantic lead. But the movie has its good points and is emotionally rewarding at the end. Not the best, but worth watching. IMDB: Tender is the Night

True Believer (1989)

James Woods, Robert Downey Jr., Margaret Colin

A seedy lawyer who represents mostly guilty drug dealers responds to the pleading of a prisoner’s mother to retry his case because she says he was falsely imprisoned for murder. This is a fairly standard crime/thriller-courtroom drama. Woods’ acting is over the top, and Downey, Jr., as the young, new hire is engaging and provides some humor. Nothing special here, but it’s worth watching.  IMDB: True Believer

MOVIES: RARE AND SELDOM-SEEN

MARCH 2017 POST

The Brothers Karamazov (Der Mörder Dimitri Karamasoff) (1931)

Fritz Kortner, Anna Sten, Fritz Rasp

Dimitri  is enraged that his aged father wants to marry the beautiful, young prostitute, Gruschenka. He visits Gruschenka to threaten her and convince her to leave his father alone. He’s enchanted with her, falls in love, and is obsessed with her forever after. Then there’s a murder, a trial, and a mystery as to who committed the murder. This is an exceptionally well done movie. Some melodramatic acting, but great cinematography, fast-paced, interesting story. Watching this movie is a good way to understand the plot of the Brothers Karamazov without reading the ponderous Russian novel. This is a film well worth watching. IMDB: The Brothers Karamazov

She Married Her Boss (1935)

Claudette Colbert, Melvyn Douglas, Michael Bartlett, Edith Fellows

Julia is Richard’s long-time, hard-working secretary. When she finally gets him to marry her, she tries to be a loving wife but finds his business is his life and he actually has no room for a woman. This is a pleasant romantic comedy with good acting and a story that moves quickly. Richard’s daughter from his previous marriage [Edith Fellows] is a talented actress stealing the scenes she’s in. This is good entertainment. IMDB: She Married Her Boss

Corruption (1933)

Evalyn Knapp, Preston Foster, Charles Delaney

Straight-arrow mayor tries to clean up politically corrupt city. Things don’t go well. This is a primitive Precode with amateurish acting and a clunky screen play, but with a little Precode naughtiness, a spunky leading lady, and a decent story, this film is actually entertaining. IMDB: Corruption

Manslaughter (1922)

Leatrice Joy, Thomas Meighan, Lois Wilson

Wild, out-of-control rich girl, Lydia, parties without restraint and has no respect for those who are not rich. She’s responsible for the death of a cop, and her life changes dramatically. This film is a morality tale and very preachy. There are extravagant DeMille scenes and costumes. Despite melodramatic acting and an improbable, coincidental plot, this film is imaginative in many ways and is very watchable. IMDB: Manslaughter

The Wedding Night (1935)

Gary Cooper, Anna Sten, Ralph Bellamy

Washed-up writer, Tony, moves back to his ancestral home in Connecticut with his wife. She can’t stand the country life and returns to New York. In the meantime, Tony falls in love with the Polish farm girl next door. This is a very good love story that is touching, suspenseful and tragic. There’s a major focus throughout on Anna Sten’s beauty. This is well worth watching. IMDB: The Wedding Night

Coney Island (1917)

Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Joe Bordeaux

Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton engage in slapstick antics at Coney Island—mostly centered on chasing pretty girls and fights with rivals. Fatty dresses as a girl for half of this film, and it’s interesting to see Coney Island functioning as it was at the time. Fatty at his best here with Buster not far behind. Good fun. IMDB: Coney Island

His Wedding Night (1917)

Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Al St. John, Alice Mann

Fatty Arbuckle works at the soda fountain/gas station and proposes to the pharmacist’s daughter. This is funny from start to finish. Lots of illegal humor—horse stealing, kidnapping, and chloroforming girls in order to kiss them. And, of course, slapstick fights throughout. Inventive humor and a ton of clever laughs here. IMDB: His Wedding Night

Exile Express (1939)

Anna Sten, Alan Marshal, Jerome Cowan

Nadine works as an assistant to a research scientist working on a secret project. Foreign agents are interested in stealing the formula for the project, and they kill the scientist to get it, but not before he spills acid on the formula papers to destroy them. They then pursue Nadine to help them restore the formula. This is a so-so mystery/thriller that drags at times, but shines whenever Anna Sten is on the screen. Watchable but not a high priority for viewing. IMDB: Exile Express

Dragnet Girl (Hijôsen no onna) (1933)

Kinuyo Tanaka, Jôji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo

Tokiko loves her criminal boyfriend but is also pursued by her rich boss to serve as his mistress. She and her boyfriend decide to carry out one last heist before retiring to a normal life of happiness. This is a classic Japanese silent film by the master, Ozu, and it features many cinematic innovations. It’s well done for the time, but for the casual viewer it’s not compelling enough to keep one’s interest. All around average. View only if you’re interested in this type of film or this film maker. IMDB: Dragnet Girl

An Inn in Tokyo (Tôkyô no yado) (1935)

Takeshi Sakamoto, Yoshiko Okada, Chôko Iida

Kihachi and his two sons are homeless, and, during a good part of the movie, they sit in a field. They go to the inn for food and shelter. They also meet a homeless woman with a little girl. This is a Japanese silent movie of people in poverty and the moral decisions they make to stay alive. The film moves slowly but develops more of an emotional impact as the simple story progresses. It’s worth seeing once, unless you’re a film scholar. IMDB: An Inn in Tokyo

Passing Fancy (Dekigokoro) (1933)

Takeshi Sakamoto, Nobuko Fushimi, Den Obinata

Illiterate Kihachi is not a good father to his son, and, as an older man, he foolishly pursues a young girl. This is a Japanese silent comedy with some unusual, funny moments and with a bit of pathos built in. It’s a very engaging film, and well worth watching. IMDB: Passing Fancy

Tokyo Chorus (Tôkyô no kôrasu) (1931)

Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo, Hideo Sugawara

This is the story of a family’s life in Tokyo. The father is a young insurance salesman who gets fired for arguing with the boss about an older employee he fired. He also has to deal with three kids (one really bratty boy) and his wife, who hospitalizes her daughter by feeding her spoiled cake. There’s a mix of drama, comedy and pathos in this film. This is quite interesting as a Japanese silent film and worth watching. IMDB: Tokyo Chorus

Nana (Lady of the Boulevards) (1934)

Anna Sten, Phillips Holmes, Lionel Atwill

From poverty Nana rises in society and becomes wealthy using her beauty and her body. She makes fools of old men in the process. There’s some silliness and some marginal acting, but the film follows the plot of the classic novel by Zola. It’s a real treat to watch a movie starring Anna Sten. Regardless of any other film features, her beauty and screen presence alone carry the film. This movie is enjoyable and well worth watching. IMDB: Nana

The Tale of the Fox (Le roman de Renard) (1930)

Claude Dauphin, Romain Bouquet, Sylvain Itkine

The sly fox tries to attract his victims through flattery and deceit, but his victims seek revenge. This is an early stop-action animation using models and is interesting and creative enough to watch as a historical curiosity. IMDB: The Tale of the Fox

Limite (1931)

Olga Breno, Tatiana Rey, Raul Schnoor

This is a Brazilian silent film with only two dialogue cards. Simply three people floating in a row boat with images of their recent past. Avant Garde. This movie requires multiple viewings to fully appreciate the filmmaker’s vision, and I would recommend it for film scholars only. IMDB: Limite

Mazurka (1935)

Pola Negri, Albrecht Schoenhals, Ingeborg Theek

This is a German film with subtitles and is based on a 1930 European court case.Vera’s perfect life is ruined by a womanizing concert pianist. She kills him, and the rest of movie presents the backstory, her trial, and her motives. This film is fascinating from beginning to end. Gripping drama with an emotional performance by Pola Negri. (For what it’s worth, this was Adolph Hitler’s favorite movie.) I would consider this film must see viewing. IMDB: Mazurka

The Heartbreak Kid (1972)

Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd, Jeannie Berlin

Leonard marries Lila but falls in love with Kelly on his honeymoon. Jeannie Berlin is perfect for the role of the annoying wife. She’s funny and garners some of the best laughs in the film. Cybill Shepard is beautiful, of course, and does well in her role as the love interest. Charles Grodin has some funny moments but can be irritating. The plot of the film is unrealistic, but there are some laugh-out-loud moments. Worth watching. IMDB: The Heartbreak Kid

G. I. Jane (1997)

Demi Moore, Viggo Mortensen, Anne Bancroft

A senator argues for the integration of women into field combat, and Jordan is the test case for the first woman to go through training to become a Navy Seal. No one expects her to succeed. I was so impressed with this movie. It explores the politics involved behind the scenes of a controversial move and the intense training involved in becoming a Seal. Demi Moore is perfect in her role—a major badass. There is a lot of action in this film including an actual combat mission. If you enjoy action movies and war movies, you will love this film. Extremely well done. IMDB: G. I. Jane

Mikey and Nicky (1976)

Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, Ned Beatty

Psychologically unbalanced man is on the run from an assassin for embezzling from the mob. His friend tries to help him. I wanted to like this movie, however, after waiting, waiting and waiting for my ‘like’ to kick in, the credits rolled and I was still waiting for a positive feeling about the movie. Skip this one. IMDB: Mikey and Nicky

Back Street (1932)

Irene Dunne, John Boles, June Clyde

Ray Schmidt is the ‘toniest’ girl in Cincinnati—beautiful, flirty, and every boy’s desire. She falls in love with a married man, though, and becomes a ‘back street girl’-the mistress of a millionaire. If you like an old-style romance/drama, you will love this film. Excellent acting, engaging story, emotional ups and downs. Enjoy this film and keep the tissues handy. Must see viewing. IMDB: Back Street

Broadway Bad [Her Reputation] (1933)

Joan Blondell, Ricardo Cortez, Ginger Rogers

Showgirl Toni impulsively marries a college boyfriend, but the marriage is short-lived when her husband assumes she is having an affair with the show’s financial backer. Because of the scandal and notoriety, she becomes the talk of the town and very wealthy. Other secrets and complications emerge as the film progresses. This is a highly entertaining precode drama. Joan Blondell and a young Ginger Rogers help make this a hit. Plenty of showgirls in underwear and lots of sexual situations and banter make this a quintessential precode film. The movie is totally engaging, well-acted, great story, and a very satisfying viewing experience. IMDB: Broadway Bad

Riders of the Purple Sage 1925

Tom Mix, Beatrice Burnham, Arthur Morrison

Lew Walters loves Millie, the pretty wife of Frank Erne and continues to ask her to run away with him. She continues to refuse. He returns with three companions. They kidnap Millie and her young daughter and shoot her husband. Millie’s brother (Tom Mix) comes from Kansas to hunt down the kidnappers and save his sister and niece. There are enough conflicts and twists in this film for four movies. Lots of fast-moving action with Mix as a Western super hero. Although fights are not authentic and the plot at times is coincidental and unrealistic, this is an interesting movie to watch. IMDB: Riders of the Purple Sage

The Only Son (Hitori musuko) (1936)

Chôko Iida, Shin’ichi Himori, Masao Hayama

A widower works in the mills, and her only ambition is to support her young son’s education so he can become a great man. This movie is from the master Japanese filmmaker, Ozu. There are stark settings and a microscopic look at everyday life in Japan during the depression. It’s a tender, emotional film and well worth watching. IMDB: The Only Son

The Black Room (1935)

Boris Karloff, Marian Marsh, Robert Allen

Twins are born with a family prophesy that the younger brother will kill the older in the Black Room of a huge estate. To prevent the tragedy, the Black Room is bricked over and sealed. Despite a few moments of weak acting and some improbable plot twists, this is a solid thriller. The action moves quickly, and the story is engaging. Cliches like ‘rip-roaring tale’ and ‘on the edge of your seat’ apply here. Boris Karloff in dual roles plays both brothers. Marian Marsh’s beauty radiates. She truly has porcelain doll features. I’d recommend adding this to your collection with other early 30s thrillers/horror/mystery films such as Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. Must See viewing. IMDB: The Black Room

The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)

Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox

Dr. Savaard is conducting an experiment to use an artificial heart apparatus on a volunteer to revive him after he dies. Dr. Savaard first kills the young man and then starts the revival process. His nurse, who is also the young man’s girlfriend, panics and contacts the police. They come and interrupt the revival process before the young man comes back to life. Dr. Saavard is convicted of murder and hanged. He’s brought back to life and ingeniously seeks revenge on all who wronged him. This is a very interesting, very engaging science fiction/thriller. Similar at times to And Then There were none as the doctor tries to eliminate his enemies one by one.  Acting is generally solid (Karloff is always stellar) but his nurse, Ann Doran, would get a Razzie if they had the awards at that time. This is a good movie, though, that  will keep your interest. Very entertaining. IMDB: The Man They Could Not Hang

Tom Dick and Harry (1941)

Ginger Rogers, George Murphy, Alan Marshal, Burgess Meredith

Janie dreams of the perfect guy. She dates and gets proposed to by three different fellas. She has a hard time deciding who to marry. This is a light, quirky romantic comedy. Ginger Rogers is one of favorite actresses and has done wonderful work. However, this film is a low point for her. Her quirkiness doesn’t suit her well, and there’s something oddly out of whack with this film. It’s entertaining enough to watch, and Ginger Rogers is always mesmerizing, but you might find viewing this film to be painful. IMDB: Tom Dick and Harry

My Name is Julia Ross (1945)

Nina Foch, Dame May Whitty, George Macready

London resident Julia accepts a job as a live-in secretary, but after she arrives at the estate where she is to live, she is drugged, kidnapped and taken far from the city. She is imprisoned by psychopaths with mysterious intentions. ‘How can she possibly escape’ is the focus of the film. This is a standard thriller with everything about the film being simply ‘average.’ It’s entertaining enough for a view, but nothing exceptional. IMDB: My Name is Julia Ross

The Mob (1951)

Broderick Crawford, Betty Buehler, Richard Kiley

Off-duty cop, Johnny Damico, witnesses a murder, holds a gun on the killer and bends over to help the victim when the killer shows a badge and a police revolver. The killer escapes. He wasn’t a cop. The chief doesn’t suspend Johnny but sends him under cover to track down the killer and what turns out to be his mob connections. Broderick Crawford is at his best here in what is a first rate noir. Fast moving action, suspense and all the noir characteristics. If you like film noir, you’ll  love this movie. IMDB: The Mob

MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

FEBRUARY, 2017 POST

Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor, Donald Sutherland

Kelly plans a gold bullion bank robbery in the midst of WWII action. Comedy, drama, war film. Great plot, interesting characters, good acting. Lots of explosions, lots of action, lots of absurd situations, lots of entertainment. On the one hand this is an action-packed war drama, and on the other, it’s a wacky comedy. Strange combination, but a great film. Lot’s of fun. [Did I really say that about a war film?] Regardless of your taste in films, you’ll enjoy this one. IMDB: Kelly’s Heroes

Tammy and the Bachelor (1957)

Debbie Reynolds, Walter Brennan, Leslie Nielsen, Fay Wray,  Louise Beavers

A pilot crashes near Tammy and her Grandpa’s cabin in the swamp, and she nurses the bachelor back to health. When Grandpa goes to prison for bootlegging, Tammy moves in with a wealthy family—the bachelor, engaged to another, lives there. Of course, unschooled and naive Tammy’s in love with him. Think this movie is sappy and not worth watching? Give it a try. Debbie Reynolds is amazing, the acting is superb, wonderful color and cinematography, tender and emotional story. There’s an iconic film moment when Debbie Reynolds wistfully sings ‘Tammy’ while sitting in her window seat. Wonderful movie experience. Must see viewing. IMDB: Tammy and the Bachelor

They Won’t Forget (1937)

Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Edward Norris, Lana Turner

Mild-mannered business teacher is accused of murdering one of his students—beautiful and sexy Lana Turner. [Sorry for the spoiler.] Community hysteria clouds the question of guilt or innocence. Wow. Powerful and suspenseful murder mystery here. Strong acting and fast-paced action. Good courtroom drama. You’ll be engrossed with this film and come away with a rewarding viewing experience. IMDB: They Won’t Forget

The Honeymoon Killers (1970)

Shirley Stoler, Tony Lo Bianco, Mary Jane Higby

This is the true story of a gigolo who preys on rich, older women. When he teams up with one of his victims, who’s a psychopath, things go downhill. This film is low-budget with bad audio. It’s a very disturbing film with amateurish acting and documentary-style cinematography. Interesting enough to watch if you can tolerate gruesome, cringe-worthy, uncomfortable scenes. Don’t let young people near this one. If you are looking for an entertaining, uplifting, or relax-and-enjoy type movie—this ain’t it.  IMDB: The Honeymoon Killers

The Story of G.I. Joe [Ernie Pyle’s The Story of G.I. Joe]

Burgess Meredith, Robert Mitchum, Freddie Steele

This war film has a no plot and some action but focuses rather on the daily lives of the soldiers of WWII. It’s a realistic look at what a G.I. endures each day during the war. Lots of time in the rain and mud. This film has some historical interest in that it features soldiers still in the service, it was filmed right at the end of the war, and it features some of Ernie Pyle’s original writing when he was embedded with the troops. It is, however, dated, slow-moving and of only average interest. IMDB: The Story of G.I. Joe

Don’t Change Your Husband (1919)

Elliott Dexter, Gloria Swanson, Lew Cody

Gloria’s husband is getting on her nerves after several years of marriage. (He is pretty rude and insensitive.) A friend’s nephew makes a play for her. How she responds is the focus of the film. This is a well-done silent by DeMille—with some elaborate sets and costumes. It’s a simple story but a satisfying hour’s worth of entertainment. IMDB: Don’t Change Your Husband

Brute Force (1947)

Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford, Yvonne De Carlo, Ann Blyth

Film Noir in prison. The grit and desperation of prison life, the backstories of some prisoners, and the plans for the big break. Add a sadistic prison guard, and you’ve got a great story. This is a well-made film with great acting and suspenseful action. Well worth the time spent viewing. IMDB: Brute Force

Tammy and the Doctor (1963)

Sandra Dee, Peter Fonda, Macdonald Carey, Beulah Bondi, Reginald Owen, Adam West

Tammy accompanies her elderly friend to the hospital for an extended stay, and they put her to work. She falls in love with a young doctor. Weak script, a few laughs, average entertainment value. Peter Fonda is wooden, and it’s hard to endure Sandra Dee’s grating, fast-talking, unsophisticated, faux Southern accent. No Fonda/Dee chemistry. After watching Debbie Reynolds in the original movie of this series, it’s difficult to accept Dee in the role. Can’t recommend this film. There’s better entertainment elsewhere—anywhere. IMDB: Tammy and the Doctor

A New Leaf (1971)

Elaine May, Walter Matthau, Jack Weston, James Coco, Doris Roberts

Wealthy Mr. Graham lives on an inheritance but runs out of money. He feels his salvation is to marry a wealthy woman and then murder her. This is a witty, sophisticated comedy. Elaine May is talented and uniquely funny. (She also wrote the screenplay and directed the film.) Walther Matthau gives a solid, grumpy performance. This is an engaging comedy highlighting the talents of May. She shines. This is a pleasant and amusing film. You’ll enjoy it. IMDB: A New Leaf

Julie (1956)

Doris Day, Louis Jourdan, Barry Sullivan, Frank Lovejoy

Julie suspects her current husband killed her first husband and is terrified he will kill her. Heart-stopping beginning to this movie! Continued and unrelenting suspense to the closing credits. You’ll be on the edge of your chair throughout this movie. If you like thrillers, this is one of the best. Must see viewing. IMDB: Julie

Sons and Lovers (1960)

Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller, Mary Ure

Complicated story of Paul’s search for love and a life free from the possessiveness of mother, father, and lover. Excellent acting, good screenplay and intense drama. This is a very good rendering of the classic novel by D. H. Lawrence. View if you like dramatic literary classics, outstanding acting, or taut drama. IMDB: Sons and Lovers

Designing Woman (1957)

Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall, Dolores Gray, Jesse White, Chuck Connors

Peck is a sports writer on the road where he meets Bacall, falls in love and marries her—despite the fact that he has a fiancee at home. The rest of the movie focuses on his efforts to hide the relationship from his new wife. Oh yeah, and he is in trouble with the mob for writing unfavorably about them. Gregory Peck as the lead actor in a comedy—whose idea what that? He’s not good. Bacall, however—she’s good in anything. The film is a standard farce. Unless you are a huge fan of Peck or Bacall and have to see everything they’re in, skip this one. IMDB: Designing Woman

Enter Laughing (1967)

José Ferrer, Shelley Winters, Elaine May, Reni Santoni, Jack Gilford, Janet Margolin, Don Rickles, Richard Deacon, Rob Reiner
Despite resistance from those around him, David  wants desperately to be an actor. When he finally gets a role, things get crazy. This is a unique comedy with an all-star cast. The lead, Reni Santoni, is new, but he does a remarkable job. Each actor in this film makes a significant contribution. There’s an equal distribution of talented, comedic bits. There are no weak performances. Elaine May—sultry, seductive and the focus of the funny in this film. And this film is funny—quirky, jokey, slapstick. You will enjoy this film. IMDB: Enter Laughing

The Wheeler Dealers (1963)

Lee Remick, James Garner, Phil Harris, Chill Wills, Jim Backus, Louis Nye, John Astin, Pat Harrington Jr.

Failed oil man James Garner heads to New York  to try his hand in shady investments. He falls in love with Lee Remick, and she comes to think he’s wheeling and dealing with her as well. James Garner is handsome, and Lee Remick is beautiful. Those are the only two good things I can say about this movie. Garner and Remick lack chemistry. For a romantic comedy, there are no laughs and just a glimmer of romance. Garner’s over-the-top charm and faux Texas accent are annoying. This is one of those movies I thought about not finishing—which I rarely do. Skip this one. IMDB: The Wheeler Dealers

Paris Holiday (1958)

Bob Hope, Fernandel, Anita Ekberg, Martha Hyer, Preston Sturges

Bob goes to Paris to get rights to a play. While pursuing a beautiful blonde, he is pursued by assassins. This is a typical Bob Hope comedy with many corny one-liners and a few lines that are genuinely funny. Add two beautiful girls and another comedian to play off of, and you’ve got a movie—a weak one, though. Sub par entertainment here. IMDB: Paris Holiday

I Was Born, But (1932)

Tatsuo Saitô, Tomio Aoki, Mitsuko Yoshikawa

(Japanese Silent Film) A family moves to the suburbs of Tokyo, and the two young boys keep skipping school because of bullies and violence at school. The two boys also have a conflict with their father, thinking he is a loser. It’s fascinating to view lives from another time and another culture, regardless of the plot. [One lesson from the silents of other countries is that people and their daily lives are the same the world over.] This silent is as well done as many of the American films at the time. There are poignant moments and funny moments. There’s a gang of young boys in this film reminiscent of the Our Gang kids (without blacks or girls), and, unlike the mischievous kids in the Our Gang group, there are some mean boys in this group. This is most interesting to view for historical and cultural reasons. It’s an easy going movie by a Japanese master. You should enjoy this film. IMDB: I Was Born, But

MOVIES: RARE, SELDOM-SEEN AND CLASSIC

JANUARY , 2017 POST

The Best Man (1964)

Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Edie Adams

Inside politics at a fictional 1964 presidential convention based on Gore Vidal’s novel. Scruples vs. no scruples. Excellent acting with some powerful dramatic moments. An interesting movie about political infighting. Explores central, controversial political issues which are still relevant in today’s politics. This is a good movie to watch, particularly if you have an interest in politics. IMDB: The Best Man

Hot Saturday (1932)

Cary Grant, Nancy Carroll, Randolph Scott

Lots of nosy old ladies and ‘friends’ gossiping about the young people, who heat it up on Saturday night. Ruth’s reputation is ruined by mean-spirited people. Good PreCode dating-focused movie. Great plot with interesting conflicts and good acting. Very early Cary Grant. A good look at relationships and mores in the early ’30s. Very entertaining.  IMDB: Hot Saturday

Torch Singer (1933)

Claudette Colbert, Ricardo Cortez, David Manners

Sally gives birth in a hospital for unwed mothers but has to give up her baby. Without her child, she becomes the most popular and most notorious torch singer in town, but she still yearns for her baby. There’s a lot of heartbreak and a lot of drama here. Colbert is exceptional in her role, and the movie is engaging from beginning to end. You’ll enjoy this movie. It’s must see viewing. IMDB: The Torch Singer

Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)

Sylvia Sidney, Fredric March, Adrianne Allen

Veteran, alcoholic newspaper reporter marries a wealthy, naive debutante. What could possibly go wrong? Acting is shaky at times and the plot is coincidental, but this film is entertaining. IMDB: Merrily We Go To Hell

Steel Magnolias (1989)

Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah, Julia Roberts

The antics and experiences of this strong cast of women center on the life of Shelby—her marriage, her pregnancy and her weaknesses. This is a busy movie—lots of subplots, characters and nonstop action/talking.  For Southern women, the implausible Southern accents are grating at times, and Dolly Parton is the only actor with an authentic Southern accent. A lot of star power here, but variable acting quality. Sally Field seems miscast as Julie Roberts’ mother even though her performance is admirable. Julia Roberts is strong, and Dolly Parton and Darryl Hannah shine. The beauty shop is gossip central. Lots of quirky comedy, intense drama, and heart-breaking moments. It’s hard to dislike this cast and their exploits. This is an exceptional movie—must see viewing. IMDB: Steel Magnolias

The Music Box (1989)

Jessica Lange, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Frederic Forrest

A Hungarian immigrant lives life for 37 years as a model American citizen but is then put on trial as a Nazi war criminal. His lawyer daughter, convinced of his innocence, defends him. A negative of this movie is that there is too much whispering that is hard to hear. The film is just average. Lots of cliches and a lack of energy and true suspense.Watchable but it falls flat. IMDB: The Music Box

Straight Time (1978)

Dustin Hoffman, Theresa Russell, Gary Busey

Max is released from prison for burglary and tries to go straight, but circumstances work against him. This film is a very realistic view of the life of a burglar/criminal. The viewer can feel the thrill and the fear of the burglar during the crimes. Interesting and suspenseful film. Well worth watching. IMDB: Straight Time

The Green Berets (1968)

John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton

Elite Green Berets train for combat and are deployed to Vietnam. It takes a long time to get to any combat in this film. Lots of talking leading up to battle. Fairly standard war drama. Heavy-handed pro-Vietnamese War propaganda. If you’re a big fan of war pictures, you should like this film. If you have to see every movie John Wayne was in, see this. Otherwise, there’s better entertainment elsewhere. IMDB: The Green Berets

The Emigrants (1971)

Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Eddie Axberg

This film is a realistic portrayal of rural life in Sweden in 1844 and dreams of the peasants to emigrate to America. This movie portrays a hardscrabble life with hardship and tragedy in Sweden and the arduous journey to a new life in America. The viewer hears, feels, and sees close up what it is to work a farm by hand during this period and the details of the emigration to America. I am fascinated with this film. It’s a true work of art.  Incredible cinematography with imaginative use of close ups—iconic faces and images. It’s poetry on celluloid and must see viewing. IMDB: The Emigrants

New Land, The (1972)

Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Eddie Axberg

This film is part 2 of the Emigrants. A beautiful, artistic film detailing realistically the struggles of the Swedish peasants in their New Land in Minnesota. Many left Sweden not only because of the hard life but because of religious persecution. One of the hardships the immigrants faced was that other immigrants carried the persecution from Sweden to the New Land. This movie also details younger brother Robert’s ill-fated journey to California seeking gold. This is a beautiful film filled with tragedy and is must see viewing. IMDB: The New Land

Jane Eyre (1943)

Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Margaret O’Brien

Jane is an orphan raised to adulthood in a life of cruelty. As a young adult she becomes governess at a manor on the English moor owned by a strange and strident master. This film is a faithful rendition of one of the greatest novels in the English language. It’s a dark, brooding tale with accomplished acting and an excellent screenplay. This film moves quickly and is engaging from the first frame to the last. This film is definitely must see viewing. IMDB: Jane Eyre

Brother Orchid (1940)

Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sothern

Mob boss Robinson decides to retire and pursue a life in search of ‘class.’ It doesn’t work out, and when he returns years later to reclaim his business and his girlfriend, everything has changed. Anne Sothern is perfect as the ditzy girlfriend, and Robinson gives his usual solid performance in this comedy/drama. There is also an epic fist fight between Robinson and his rival, Humphrey Bogart. This is a well-made and entertaining movie. IMDB: Brother Orchid

Thin Ice (1937)

Sonja Henie, Tyrone Power, Arthur Treacher

A prince visits a Swiss resort and (under an assumed name) falls in love with the skating instructor. Incredible skating performances by Sonja Henie with scores of backup skaters and accompanied by a full orchestra and chorus. Breathtaking. Thin plot with musical numbers, dancing and skating featured. Henie tops the charts for cuteness, and she actually give a credible performance as an actress. If you like musicals from this period, you will like this movie—a pleasurable, artistic experience. IMDB: Thin Ice

The Dolly Sisters (1945)

Betty Grable, John Payne, June Haver

The Dolly sisters work professionally as dancers and singers from childhood into young adulthood. Betty faces a problem when she falls in love with a struggling song writer and is conflicted as to whether she should marry and leave her sister act or be loyal to her sister and continue with the act. The plot in this film is thin, and the singing and dancing are the focus. Acting is sketchy at times, but the singing and dancing are outstanding, and the scenery and costumes are colorful and add appeal to the film. (This is a visually beautiful film.) [Of historical interest is the production number, Dark Town Strutters Ball, in which all participants perform in black face.] This musical is pretty good and well worth watching. IMDB: The Dolly Sisters

The Grifters (1990)

Anjelica Huston, John Cusack, Annette Bening

Three people make a living by cheating others. Conflicts and double-crossing ensue. The acting is top-notch in this film, and you’ll see Annette Bening at her best here. This is a bizarre thriller, which is slow going at times and cringe-worthy at others. Of average interest. IMDB: The Grifters

Winslow Boy, The (1948)

Robert Donat, Cedric Hardwicke, Basil Radford, Margaret Leighton

A 12-year-old boy is expelled from military school without due process. His father goes to extreme lengths to prove his innocence. This is a stuffy English movie based on a classic play. Excellent acting, interesting story, but I missed many details because the dialogue in this film is hard to hear clearly much of the time. The British English is spoken so quickly and in lowered tones at times I missed what was said. Nevertheless, it’s worth a look but not a necessity. IMDB: The Winslow Boy

Page Divider 1

COMMENT

Page Divider 1

Leave a Reply