Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) Film Review - Maureen O'Hara

Plot Summary - Tale of two dancers, members of a female dance troupe struggling in the big city to get jobs and pay their bills. Good girl Judy O'Brien (Maureen O'Hara), beautiful and innocent Irish gal who says "the only thing I really care about is dancing", is devoted to her art as she practices ballet, but is forced to earn money dancing with the others in sequins and nightclubs that get raided. Roommate and friend (well, sort of) "Bubbles" (Lucille Ball), is sexy and interested in finding herself a rich man. She's not the best dancer but the troupe needs her 'cause she's the only one with "oomph". Bubbles dances a hot hula and gets hired for $25 a week at a Hoboken nightclub, but she's soon "discovered" and becomes a popular "burlesque queen" renamed Tiger Lily White. The burlesque theater where she works wants someone with class to be the warm-up performer for Lily/Bubbles - and Bubbles suggests her old pal Judy, who agrees to take the job for the money. Soon their act becomes a hit on Broadway as "Tiger Lily White and her little stooge". Judy bravely takes the stage each day, dances ballet, and gets herself booed by the largely male audience who beg for Tiger Lily to come out and perform. Lily/Bubbles does a number where a wind blows her clothes up and eventually off (while she stands behind the curtain, that is). Meanwhile a couple of men fit into the picture (don't they always) - one is wealthy Jimmy Harris (Louis Hayward), coming onto Judy but still carrying the torch for his soon-to-be ex-wife. The other, Steve Adams (Ralph Bellamy), falls for Judy in an elevator, chases after her in the rain, then later tries to meet her backstage, but she's just not interested - thing is, he's actually head of the "American Ballet Company", where she recently attempted to audition and chickened out!

Review - Directed by Dorothy Arzner, this is an entertaining backstage soap opera, with some enjoyable dance numbers - loved Lucy's hula, and also her "Jitterbug Bite" number is fun. Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball are both perfection in their opposing roles - and Maureen's character isn't *all* innocence, as the two end up in a rolling on the floor on-stage cat fight followed by appearance in night court. As a close to lifelong devotee of "I Love Lucy" (I'm sure I've been watching that show continuously since about the age of three or four), it's neat seeing Lucy SO young! The film comes across as pretty much a B-movie, but quite an excellent one - the quality of the black and white print of this, as screened on TCM, looked quite clear and nice. I have seen this one before, but not recently so it seemed pretty fresh for me. Rating - 8/10 stars

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cinecon 46 Review - 2010 Film Festival Report

Have written up my report on Cinecon 46 which was at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California over the 2010 Labor Day weekend. Film reviews, ratings, plot summaries, etc. for the films screened.

Visit Cinecon 46 Review for my full report.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Last Station (2009) - Christopher Plummer Helen Mirren

Plot Summary - Following the last days of famed writer Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) in Russia, 1910. A young and innocent Tolstoy worshipper, Valentin (James McAvoy), arrives to become his new private secretary while Tolstoy's wife, the Countess (Helen Mirren), often disrupts the household in her pursuit to keep her husband from creating a new will that will entail the rights to all his literary works, including famous War and Peace, to the people (rather than her children). Meanwhile Valentin loses his virginity and falls in love with the liberated woman called Masha.

Review - Filmed on location in a lovely setting, the 1910 time period wonderfully set and costumed, the story is oh so slightly tedious, the fight over the will being the main thrust here. But - the acting is fabulous, especially Christopher Plummer as the aged Tolstoy and - wow, Helen Mirren is fantastic as his troubled and troublesome wife. James McAvoy is a personal favorite and heartthrob of mine, well done - the actress who plays Masha was miscast, in my opinion. An interesting historical drama, as a whole, well photographed and acted. Rating - 8.5/10 stars

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (1937) - Judy Garland Mickey Rooney

Plot Summary - Horse racing melodrama/light musical, starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. English teen Roger (Ronald Sinclair) heads for California with his grandfather Sir Peter Calverton (C. Aubrey Smith) to race their beloved prize horse "the Pookah" in the "American Cup". Roger sets out to recruit skilled, but cocky, jockey Timmie Donovan (Mickey Rooney) - known as a big "swellhead" - to ride the Pookah in the race. Roger heads into Mother Ralph's boarding house for jockeys, gets invited to dinner by niece Cricket West (Judy Garland), a teen with a great singing voice and ambitions to become a singer and actress (she's a bit of a show-off). After Roger gets poked around by all for his short pants and British accent, a couple of black eyes later and Timmie ends up agreeing to ride Roger's horse. They soon become good pals, but things start to go wrong when Timmie is tricked into believing his father is dying and in need of an expensive iron lung, and the only way to get the money for dad is to "throw a race". Dad is actually a professional gambler/bad man and not even ill, Timmy makes the Pookah lose in a preliminary race for America's Cup, then all seems lost when he ends up removed as a jockey and thrown off the course right before the big race. But luckily Roger has been taking jockey lessons from Timmy, and decides to go ahead and ride the Pookah in the race himself!

Review - A cute, light entertainment, the film boosted up by the star quality of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland (she received top billing here, though I would have liked to have seen her with a bit more to do), plus a great cast of character actors (Sophie Tucker as Mother Ralph/Aunt Edie is quite amusing here). Ronald Sinclair is very good too and gives a nice, realistic quality in his performance as the young Englishman, including a scene with some very innocent flirtations between him and Judy's character. Many scenes in the movie are filmed on-location at the brand new Santa Anita racetrack. Wonderful Judy shines, as usual, singing "Got a Pair of New Shoes" several times during the film, including the opening titles. Mickey Rooney energetically steals the film, as usual. Rating - 8/10 stars

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Red Desert (1964) - Il deserto rosso - Antonioni directed

Plot Summary - Italian language film, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. Cold, industrialized cityscape with gritty, gray, lonely streets, rusted window frames, large, rundown factories spewing pollution, fishing ports with ghost-like ships that pass quietly by through the fog, large and looming, rusty and mysterious - and an attractive, deeply disturbed young woman (Monica Vitti) - a wife and mother - who faces mental illness after some sort of road accident a few years before. She seems unable to cope with the world around her, and sometimes views things in one color, the scene literally painted gray - or pink. She meets a friend (Richard Harris) of her husband at the factory where he works, then seems to keep meeting up with this new man, his almost lovestruck eye, a wee bit lustful, always there to observe her strange behavior.

Review - A very unusual film, weirdly visual, with striking imagery - the background music is often futuristic, sci-fi, machine-ish in nature. Is there some hidden meaning behind all this - or is the director trying too hard to be artsy and cool?! Ah, that's the rub. And what's behind the tiny fishing hut, the group of horny people, the quail eggs, and the almost orgy followed by odd, nearby ship quarantine? I found the film interesting, in any case - real weird, but oddly satisfying too. One of my favorite scenes was when the woman tells a story to her young son, the story visualized on the screen, with lovely isolated island, pink beach, a lone girl, and mysterious sailing ship - the prettiest scenery in the film is really, nothing but a story. The widescreen print of this film looked very nice, on Criterion Blu-ray. Rating - 9/10 stars

July Notes

Okay - still trying to catch up with this. I am going to try posting each film on the day I see it, as I did when I started this blog. Seems like it was easier to keep up with that way. Starting with the film I watched today.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Neckin' Party (1937) - Comedy Short Film Review

Plot Summary and Review - "A Vitaphone Novelty". Short starring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, who play themselves. At a New York nightclub, Edgar meets up with Charlie, who's dressed to the nines after just inheriting $200, then after some brief comedy patter, they agree to fly to a ranch "below the border" where they are soon dressed and performing like a couple of singing cowboys and meeting up with a VERY flirtatious Mexican dancing girl named Lolita. Though she's agreed not to "look at any man", Lolita starts flirting with Charlie, prompting her extremely jealous boyfriend to invite Charlie to go on a "necking party" - with not exactly the intent that Charlie thinks. While Edgar is off chatting up Elmer "Mortimer" Snerd (more comedy patter) Charlie is getting a noose put around his neck! One reel short with mild humor throughout. No laughs out loud for me, but cute. Rating - 7.5/10 stars

Party Wire (1935) Film Review - Jean Arthur

Plot Summary - POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD - - Melodrama all set in the small town of Rockridge, where town gossips get their fix on the shared telephone line party wire everyone shares, eavesdropping on neighbor's conversations and spreading rumours like wildfire. Excitement hits town in the form of Matthew "Matt" Putnam (Victor Jory), back in town after seven years absence, with lots of money - and single! And apparently the only catch in town as all the young women - with mothers pushing behind them - are after him. But Matt visits his old pal Will Oliver (Charles aka Charley Grapewin), a man who likes to get drunk on his homemade applejack, and reunites (and sparks) with Will's now grown-up pretty daughter Marge (Jean Arthur). Marge's friend Roy is interested in her too, they both work on the church funds bookkeeping together (for some reason). But when Matt and Marge are seen going about town together, the gossip leads defeated Roy to decide to leave town - coincidentally, the same night some money has gone missing from the church accounts. Misunderstandings on the telephone leads the town gossips and old biddies to the mistaken notion that Roy was skipping town because he had gotten Marge pregnant! Many troubles loom for Marge, starting with her being fired from her job at the bank. All this leads her hero Matt to try and come to her rescue - by getting even with the whole town for doing her wrong.

Review - This is a real cute film, very entertaining. Okay, that Matt isn't exactly my ideal looks-wise, but he does seem like a pretty decent chap - of course, he actually has no interest in staying on in the tiny town (founded by his Gramps) until he meets Marge - and why not, she's Jean Arthur after all. As Matt's bedridden, ornery aunt tells him - "he's had his education, his fling, and his foolishness - now it's time to settle down - in Rockridge." The scenes of the old lady gossips getting their kicks listening in on everyone's phone conversations are kind of amusing, actually. Lots of really good character actors fill up this film, helping make this quite enjoyable. Of course, being the thirties, they never actually say the word pregnant or mention pregnancy - but we all get it anyway! Rating - 8.5/10 stars

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Adventureland (2009) Film Review - Kennywood Park location

Plot Summary - Coming of age romantic comedy set in Pittsburgh, the summer of 1987. About James (Jesse Eisenberg), just graduated from college and - a virgin, it is announced - who is forced to get his first summer job when his father gets transferred (and has less money). No experience, the only job he can get is as a carny operating games at local amusement park Adventureland. James meets several new friends working there that summer including fellow game operator, attractive Em (Kristen Stewart). He quickly becomes lovestruck over Em, but Em seems torn between him and married, a bit older park maintenance guy who she is busy sleeping with in his mom's basement (or sometimes in the back of his car!). Romance blossoms between James and Em, but James has a fling of his own when a sexy park dancer/ride operator comes onto him. Will this be the summer that James loses his virginity? and will he end up with a new love?

Review - This film came as a bit of a surprise - very good, with well done blossoming romance and fun setting, on-location filming done almost entirely in the old-fashioned amusement park (filmed at Kennywood Park, West Mifflin, near Pittsburgh, PA - yeah, I'd like to go there one day!). The two leads take their parts to heart and do a really good job here - especially Jesse Eisenberg, who brings a real vulnerability to the role, the expressions on his face really do make him look like a young man falling in love. The eighties period setting was done well, enhanced by a great soundtrack of eighties music (loved hearing one of my old, personal faves from the day "Don't Change" by INXS in the closing credits). Lots of other favorite songs too. Comedy elements are added by stars like "Freaks and Geeks" Martin Starr, as a geeky games worker, and Bill Hader, as the park manager. Great film. Rating - 9 to 9.5/10 stars

Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) - Film Review

Plot Summary - Teen comedy/musical about TV/Disney sensation Hannah Montana. Seemingly normal teenage high school girl Miley (Miley Cyrus) dons a blonde wig and some cool clothes and secretly turns herself into her alter-ego, one teen pop sensation known as Hannah Montana. Her dad wants her to go to Tennessee for two weeks to celebrate her grandmother's birthday with the family - Hannah has other plans in NYC, but is tricked by smart papa into ending up on a flight straight to Tennessee and her little country hometown, Crowley Corners. Back home, Miley meets a good-looking teen cowboy and has some flirtations (remember, this is a Disney film), plus is busy trying to keep her alter-ego a secret, especially from a bloodhound-like reporter on her trail for his Brit rag publication. When they want to turn part of the landscape in town into a mall, a fund raiser is to be put on to keep this from happening - which escalates into an invitation for Hannah Montana herself to perform a concert to help raise funds - thing is, only close family knows Miley is Hannah - what if the town (or her new guy) were to find out the truth?

Review - This is cute, VERY light fare - perhaps I would have liked this better when I was ten, but I did find this entertaining. Some of the film is sort of silly slapstick-ish, but the story is well done, and there are some nice moments, I especially enjoyed the duet that Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus (who plays her dad in the film) do in one scene for the song, "Butterfly Fly Away". The musical numbers, in general, were enjoyable to watch - I just always enjoy musicals, I guess. Okay movie - a good bet for the preteen gal set. Rating - 7/10 stars

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Love You, Man (2009) Film Review - Paul Rudd, Jason Segel

Plot Summary - Comedy-"bromance". Newly engaged realtor, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), finds that his wife has an assortment of best gal pals to have for her bridesmaids but he has NO guy friends. So - he decides to try to find a new male friend he can ask to be Best Man at his wedding, and begins going on "man dates". Okey dokey. No luck finding that right new chum - until one day having an open house for the big property he's trying to sell - Lou Ferrigno's house - he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel). Soon meeting up again for beer and fish tacos in Venice Beach, L.A., where Sydney has a house, they gradually become buddies - doing Rush songs together on guitar and bass in Sydney's "man cave" (hmm - do guys really have stuff like that?), getting drunk, telling intimate sex stuff to each other. Buds to the end. But is Peter's fiancee, Zooey (Rashida Jones), really up to having her man gone half the time doing guy stuff with Sydney?!

Review - Well, this ended up being fairly good - it had some laughs in it, cute story, all filmed on location in L.A. including the Venice boardwalk, Chinatown for an engagement party at Hop Louie (must go there one day soon), and the Grove. For a comedy, this wasn't a bad watch, was entertaining with lots of humor based around a man's relationship with another man being sort of like a romantic relationship - what with nervousness about calling for their first "man date", nervousness getting to know each other, saying the wrong things, making a break apart from each other and the like. Fun film good for some laughs. Rating - 8/10 stars

Old Acquaintance (1943) Film Review - Bette Davis

Plot Summary - POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD - - Soap Opera and rivalry following twenty years in the lives of two best gal pals. Successful novelist Katherine "Kit" Marlowe (Bette Davis) arrive back in her small hometown, after years away in NYC, to meet up with her old best friend, hot-tempered Millie Drake (Miriam Hopkins) and husband Preston (John Loder). Jealousy and envy seems to surround these two women as Millie, a housewife about to have a baby, has secretly been writing a book: she longs for a career as a writer, like her friend. She soon becomes a huge success writing romance novels, and as the years pass, Preston - not the kind of man who seems to enjoy his wife earning more money than he does (yeesh) - becomes an unhappy alcoholic whose only happiness is his daughter Dierdre and - yes - Kit. Preston and Kit had sparks the first moment they met, this has bloomed into love unfulfilled ten years later - Kit has also become sort of a mother figure to the daughter. But Kit sticks by her long-time friend even though Millie must be treated with kid gloves a lot of the time as she is given to being bad tempered, irrational, and rather juvenile. Preston leaves Millie, the years go by, and into WWII where Preston and Kit are both dating other people (Kit's is a youth ten years her junior), and Diedre has become a beautiful young woman - more soap to come!!

Review - Good fun, with lots of great acting as the great Bette Davis takes control of the film, but Miriam Hopkins also goes all out, acting UP a storm as drama queen Millie. Basically, a familiar plot - one woman has a career, one has a home and family - each sort of wants what the other has. Okay - a small complaint regarding something which is very common in films made in the 30s/40s, the silents too - when the film begins it is 1924, it moves forward to 1932, then into WWII and the clothing they wear in the film is all current day 1940s attire, no period costuming at all. Also, the way they age Bette to make her look forty-something in the later part of the film is to simply add a gray streak to the top of her head - hmm. Rating - 8.5/10 stars

The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006) - Documentary Review

Plot Summary - More footage from the original "Grey Gardens" documentary from 1975 was used to create this new film. Lots more glimpses of eccentric but lovable mother and daughter, Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beales, and their semi-isolated life in their East Hampton beachside mansion, Grey Gardens. This film features lots more of Little Edie singing, dancing, posing, and making love to the camera with her eyes basically; Big Edie recites a couple of poems. The house has a small fire, a small batch of cute kittens is born, and there is more footage featured of the "Marble Faun", an Italian-American neighbor youth named Jerry who likes to hang about with the two women. They also receive a visit from a friend/palm reader who paints some rather unusual, kind of dark paintings!

Review - Okay, this documentary wasn't quite as good as the original, which obviously featured most of the best footage, but it was still very interesting and great to spend some more time with these two women - I really like them a whole lot, as obviously the two filmmakers, the Maysles brothers did. Little Edie flirts with them from her side of the camera quite often in the footage shown in this. We also get to see a whole lot more of Little Edie's wild costumes and headdresses (love it!) - amazing the combinations and ideas she comes up with! More skirts and scarves created out of shirts, more weird color combinations, more running about in that same 40s/50s looking bathing suit - - we even see Edie take the two filmmakers down to the beach, where she sunbathes and goes for a swim - lots of fun stuff. Very cool. Rating - 9/10 stars

April Notes - Catch Up Time !!

Okay, no posts since February - time to catch up. I have piles of reviews all written up and on my computer but have become seriously behind in thinking about posting them here. I think I'll try to make a go of posting these now (over the next week that is, there's lots!). I'll try, but gosh - it's Robert Taylor day again on TCM starting this afternoon - so many movies to watch, so much to do, so little time!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Carrie (1952) Film Review - Jennifer Jones, Laurence Olivier

Plot Summary - POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD - - Soap opera following the downfall of a married man in love with another woman. Turn of the century small town girl, right off the farm, Carrie (Jennifer Jones) arrives in Chicago to, hmm, seek her fortune (or snatch a man). Moving in with her sister and family, she works at a shoe factory until an accident with the machine causes her to be fired. With no money or job, she seeks the help of a man/wolf named Charlie (Eddie Albert), who she met on the train into town. He helps her out by offering her money and his place to stay while he pretends to leave town (hmm). Soon she is living with Charlie and *hoping* he will marry her (oh gosh). Meanwhile, he has taken her out to dinner at a fancy Chicago eatery where she meets the successful, handsome manager, George (Laurence Olivier). George invites her to the theatre and is soon in fast pursuit of her, they quickly fall in love - thing she doesn't know yet, he is married - - and to a shrew of a wife! Carrie finds out and refuses to see him again - - so in desperate pursuit to get her for his own, he embezzles money from the restaurant and tricks her into going to New York, and then lies that he is divorced. Many troubles to follow.

Review - Following the complete downfall of a man in a bad marriage and in love with a younger woman (and who does *anything* it takes to get her) - - this film has more melodrama packed into two hours than most; sort of dark, but an entertaining watch. Liked this lots - and never saw it before! Rating - 9/10 stars

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Love Letters (1945) Film Review - Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten

Plot Summary - POSSIBLE SPOILERS - - - Romantic mystery/melodrama starring Joseph Cotten as Allen, a soldier off to war in Italy who has been writing love letters to a girl back in England named Victoria - thing is, he is writing them on behalf of his buddy Roger and Victoria has fallen in love with the letters AND the man who has written the letters (who she believes is her man Roger!). Oddly, Allen has fallen in love with Victoria too, a woman he has never seen or met. Well, Roger goes back to England and marries her, Allen is wounded in action and comes home only to find out that his friend Roger was killed in an "accident". Meanwhile, Allen has inherited a country house in Essex and arrives to live at the mysterious old house, complete with charming/eccentric (whichever way you want to look at it) old caretaker (Cecil Kellaway). Coincidentally, in a nearby village is where his love that he has never met - and his obsession: Victoria - happened to live - - but when he visits one day he is told she is dead. POSSIBLE SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS - - In London he meets and falls for a beautiful woman named just "Singleton" (Jennifer Jones) who has amnesia and can't remember anything about her past. But her friend Dilly knows the truth - which is told to Allen - Singleton is Victoria, who was in prison for a year for the murder of Roger and lost all memory of her past after the incident. Allen and Singleton fall in love and get married, though Allen is told that she must not be told the truth of her past, but the memories gradually start to come! How will this affect their romance, and will she ever find out that her Alan is the one who really wrote the love letters?!

Review - Okay, this film is about as soap opera-ish as you can get - very entertaining, though very predictable (though I may have seen this a long, long time ago and the memory of the film was somewhere in the back of my head). I liked the sort of mysterious background music and sweet, dreamy-eyed "Portrait of Jennie"-like acting style of Jennifer Jones in this. Neat house the Joseph Cotten character goes to live in in Essex. Joseph Cotten is one of my favorites, as is Jennifer Jones - I enjoy them paired with each other, they have a lot of chemistry together. Well, it seems rather far-fetched to think that a couple would fall in love just based on letters, yet they are both so attractive when they meet - why wouldn't they fall in love for real?! Rating - 8.5 to 9/10 stars

Sunday, November 29, 2009

17 Again (2009) Film Review - Zac Efron

Plot Summary - Fantasy-comedy about Mike (Matthew Perry), a thirty-something father of two teens who feels disappointed with his life - going nowhere in his job in pharmaceutical sales (they promote a bimbo - working there only two months - instead of him, a 16 year employee!) and on the brink of divorcing the wife he married after getting her pregnant his senior year in high school. Oddly, he is given a second chance when he visits his old school, encounters a strange janitor, and soon has fallen off a bridge and into something pretty weird - his body has become seventeen again (you knew that was coming!), but inside he's still the same man. Okay, now a teenager, Mike (Zac Efron), decides that this is his chance to try and do his life over - he decides to "go back to high school". Living with his longtime pal Ned, a sci-fi/fantasy geek to the core (you should see this guy's house!), he recruits Ned to pose as his "dad" and sign him up for school. Ned falls for the attractive female principal and Mike hopes to gain the success he once missed out on by joining the basketball team. But here's the twist - Mike's two teenage kids, Alex and Maggie, attend the same high school and he finds himself getting to know the kids he never really knew - and helping them out with their problems. Alex is being taunted by a bully, Maggie happens to be dating said bully (a real jerk). And meanwhile, Mike comes over to his new "friend" Alex's house and meets his mom (Leslie Mann), Mike's soon to be ex-wife, and he begins to see a side of her he had forgotten. Thing is, she thinks he's a teen!

Review - Okay, I thought this film was quite good, funny - very entertaining. I do always enjoy these sort of films - Freaky Friday, Big, etc. - body switching, age changing fantasy, that sort. This features lots of comic scenes involving Mike acting towards his children like a father - but they think he's just another kid at school, creating weird situations. Same with his relationship with the mom, he acts more like her husband than her son's friend. Mix-ups, confusion, it's all amusing. The film also features comedy in the form of an older man trying to think, dress, and act like a teenager. Rating - 9/10 stars

Monday, November 9, 2009

Love on the Run (1936) Film Review - Clark Gable

Plot Summary - MGM romantic comedy about a reporter on the trail of a runaway bride (hm- doesn't that sound familiar?!). Mike Anthony (Clark Gable), reporter for the New York Chronicle, is in London to cover the story of debutante Sally Parker (Joan Crawford) and her wedding to a Russian prince named Igor. But running into her as she's running away on her wedding day, Mike enters her hotel room, comforts her in her tears, and offers his help - the two run off together, disguised as a Baron and Baroness, steal their small plane and oddly manage to fly all the way to France though, apparently, Mike has never flown a plane before! Now Mike is after getting "the biggest exclusive story of the year" for his newspaper, as the two are on the run. Barney (Franchot Tone), a rival reporter and semi-chum of Mike's, is chasing after the two like a bloodhound to get his own story - and also in hot pursuit to catch them is the Baron and Baroness, actually phonies, spies who are after this map that was found by Mike and Sally in the plane. At one point, Mike and Sally end up hiding away spending the night in a huge palace run by a crazy caretaker who thinks they are ghosts (and actually has a pet invisible dog friend). Mike and Sally's obviously approaching romance sparks here, but when Sally finds out he is a reporter, she leaves him. More troubles to come as they are soon at the end of the guns of the evil Baron/Baroness couple (better known as Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein).

Review - Okay, this film is sort of so-so with lots of stuff that doesn't really make that much sense - why is Mike so mean to rival reporter Barney, yet they are bunking together in the same hotel room at the beginning of the film? Why does Sally not even scream or wonder that much at a strange man entering her hotel room, even if he does look like Clark Gable? Of course, the plane flying sequence is pretty absurd - they can barely get the plane off the ground without killing a whole crowd of people but manage to fly to France, fearlessly, I might add! What is good in the film is three great stars of the golden age in one film - all doing a pretty good job of it too. Of course, Franchot Tone is one of my personal favorite actors from that era, though I would rather have seen him in the romantic lead than this sort of thankless role as Mike's object of tricks to get rid of him (locking him in the back of a truck, leaving him in the lurch with the bill unpaid in a French restaurant, tying and gagging him with the enemy in the next room, stuff like that). Saw this one before, but it just wasn't memorable enough for me to realize until halfway through the film. Similarities to "It Happened One Night (1934)". Rating - 6.5 to 7/10 stars

Forsaking All Others (1934) Film Review

Plot Summary - Three friends since childhood in a love triangle - Mary (Joan Crawford) has been in love with Dillon (Robert Montgomery) since they were kids, Jeff (Clark Gable) has been in love with Mary since they were kids. Jeff arrives back in town from Spain with plans to ask Mary to marry him, until he finds out it's the day before Mary's wedding to Dillon! Mary seems to see Jeff as a sort of pal/uncle and asks him to "give her away" (she also sits on his lap, her "favorite seat in town" - okay, what's that all about?). Oddly, Dill runs off that night with former girlfriend Connie, a bitch who arrives to seduce him and he inexplicably bites, leaving Mary at the alter! Whoa. She runs off to stay with a friend (Billie Burke) in the Adirondacks and is soon quite the sports gal. Mary and Jeff are invited some weeks later by Connie to attend a party being thrown by herself and new hubby Dillon. Mary decides to go and spit in their eye sort of speak, as she means to look on her ex-fiance as "last year's hat". Well, that fails - married man Dillon keeps calling her and they finally get together for a fun day in the country with hamburgers, bicycles, and hi-jinks - still in love. They end up having to spend the night in the Adirondacks house, but no funny stuff (you know what I mean, this is the thirties). Jeff pretty much has backed off, as Dillon and Mary begin their romance again - what's next for these three?!

Review - This is a cute film, boosted up by three top stars of the thirties. I like the clip in the opening credits where the three walk towards the camera - her in bride dress, the two men dolls in top hat and tails. I did watch this to see favorite Robert Montgomery - woo, though his character is sort of a charming cad (don't really like to see him like that). Pretty good, fairly predictable, typical thirties light romantic comedy. Rating - 7.5 to 8/10 stars

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our Mother's House (1967) Film Review - Dirk Bogarde

Plot Summary - Dirk Bogarde stars in this very strange, unusual British film about seven seemingly fatherless children whose mother dies and the kids, not wanting to get sent to the orphanage, bury her in the garden and continue to live on, attend school, etc. without telling anyone about her death. They build an odd shrine in the garden complete with her bedroom furniture and hold "Mother Time" prayer meetings - actually, more like seances as the oldest daughter (Pamela Franklin) contacts the mother and relays advice to the kids! The bunch start to go out of control a bit, forging mom's signature and cashing her weekly "check" at the bank, and dealing out harsh punishments like cutting off the long hair of the eight-year old-ish daughter. When the girl gets ill after the brutal haircut incident, they won't call a doctor - but the middle girl (family leader actually) gives the scoop that they actually have a father, a real beast apparently, and one of the boys contacts the man. Arriving on the scene one Charlie Hook (Bogarde), cockney horse-race gambler with a passion for women and hard drink. He takes over the family, the kids start to run wild, the middle daughter completely doesn't trust him - and with good reason as he secretly starts taking money out of the mother's savings account.

Review - Okay, this movie IS kind of weird and strange, but it's quite well done and memorable. I have seen this quite a few times before, but not in a number of years - I still remember that hair cutting scene, poor girl. The film has a sort of dark, gothic feel to it - school uniforms and large, rundown Victorian house adding to the atmosphere. Okay - what's with Dirk Bogarde's Moe-like haircut in this - seriously though, he's great as usual. Though Charlie isn't meant to be any kind of father figure, he comes across as really having a ball with these kids - I believe because Dirk Bogarde himself enjoyed making this film and working with the kids, it really does come across. Mark Lester appears in this film in the role of cute little stuttering Jiminee, expert at forging signatures! A memorable little music tune runs through this film that I still remember weeks later. Rating - 9/10 stars