falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for the ‘1940s’ Category

And more films…

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

I’m not doing such a bad job with my film watching! Also, I plan to do a Thin Man marathon soon… or maybe a Fred and Ginger marathon. I hope I’m up to it! I WILL BLOG ALL OF THIS. I MUST BLOG.

I thought that seeing all text posts was depressing so I decided to put pictures of movie posters. Once I’m I grad school, I hope to write more thorough posts… or at least ones with screenshots! I have a feeling that my blog posts are going to be just like this though, haha~


Amarcord (1973)
Director: Federico Fellini
Actors: Armando Brancia, Magali Noël, Ciccio Ingrassia, Bruno Zanin, Josiane Tanzilli, Maria Antonietta Beluzzi, Giuseppe Ianigro
Country: Italy, France

I seem to be watching Fellini’s self-referential films for some reason — I’m not doing it on purpose but the ones I happen to pick up are the ones that reflect Fellini. Or are all of his films like this? What do I know since I know nothing about Fellini!
I enjoyed this film so much and I don’t really know why. I found it to be so beautiful to watch with all of its lush colours and it was like an Antonioni film where each shot looks like something that would be a beautiful photograph. The film felt surreal at times but it always had my attention even though I feel like a film like this could easily make me lose interest.
There are so many hilarious moments that I thought that Fellini was a visual humour genius, just like how I view Lubitsch. I laughed so hard at the car scene when the boys were group masturbating and the car was shaking and the lights were flickering and at the scene where Titta is suffocated by the tobacco shop owner’s boobs. I also couldn’t help but laugh when Gradisca’s butt was pelted with snowballs. I really can’t wait to make gifs from this film and write about this film again.
The Fascist scenes were really interesting because it made me think of how I, as an American, respect the president, but let’s say that America wasn’t a superpower — it’s possible that the world might view the president in a very negative light, just like how we now view Mussolini. America isn’t a perfect country and I admit that I don’t want to know much about the war going on because it would probably make me sick. It’s probably how the Italians felt went Mussolini was in power but because Italy lost the war, the perspective on Mussolini is very different compared to the time when he was in power.
The one issue I had with the film was its portrayal of women. I felt that for the most part, they were dehumanized, although I suppose an argument can be made that it’s completely understandable because the film follows Titta and we find out that he’s a typical boy that gets turned on by women and only cares about sex and not much else.
Random thought, but did Fellini have Fred e Ginger in mind since the Fred and Ginger movie poster was so prominently shown in a shot? Or just a coincidence?
I definitely enjoyed this film more than and I look forward to seeing more of Fellini’s films!


Laura (1944)
Director: Otto Preminger
Actors: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson
Country: U.S.A.

The first time I watched Laura, I remember that I wasn’t really impressed. I found it rather dull and kind of boring and the only thing that got me going was Gene Tierney’s gorgeous face.
Now that I rewatched it, I feel like I am kind of like Detective McPherson in that I’m growing more intrigued by this film and I’m growing to like it! And the thing is, I don’t know why!!! Sometimes I think about this film and think that it is a bad film because total wtfbbq at Laura and Det. McPherson falling in love like that because I see no reason why either of them would fall in love with each other. I found all the characters to be rather unlikable and unrelatable and found them to be so distant (that’s really the best way I can describe how I feel) with no motivation behind their actions. At the same time I wonder if Preminger is an amazing director because he can make a film look polished, feel empty (yet you wonder the emptiness of it), yet captivating. I need to rewatch Bonjour Tristesse because I remember feeling the same way about that film too.
The casting of this film is excellent and while I’m sure everyone agrees that Gene Tierney’s performance as the titular character is A+, I don’t think enough can be said about Clifton Webb’s performance because it was so, SO good. He really made the film and if it weren’t for his stellar acting, I don’t know if Gene Tierney’s performance alone could have carried this film. I can’t even imagine who else would have been just as good, if not better, as Waldo Lydecker as Clifton Webb was. Also, I think that Lydecker is the character that I like the most in this film, but I think it’s because I/the viewer knows about him the most. In regards to Dana Andrews, I don’t know what to make of him in this film. Sometimes I think he is perfect in it and at other times I think it’s really bad acting. I know he’s a competent actor and maybe it’s the kind of character that Detective McPherson is supposed to be, but I really do waffle back and forth about him. If I’m comparing him to another famous detective performance in cinema, Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, both have this rough exterior but when I watch Bogart as Sam Spade, I am enthralled by his performance. Maybe it’s because Sam has such great lines that McPherson doesn’t really seem to shine? I feel like he’s a character that is just there because it’s necessary for the plot. AGH I AM SO CONFLICTED.


The Razor’s Edge (1946)
Director: Edmund Goulding
Actors: Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, Herbert Marshall, Elsa Lanchester, Fritz Kortner
Country: U.S.A.

I was SO looking forward to watching this film (I mean, look at that cast!) because I’ve read so much about Gene Tierney’s performance in this film, but I didn’t really enjoy the film. I wouldn’t mind watching it again, but overall, I felt indifferent about it. I’m surprised by this because the cast is superb and I love film adaptations of W. Somerset Maugham’s works but I found the story to be dull. Thankfully the acting kept me going because Herbert Marshall was elegant as usual as Somerset Maugham, Clifton Webb was great and elegant as always, and Anne Baxter was flipping amazing as Sophie, especially during the scenes after her character loses her child and husband. I thought Gene Tierney was alright until the end when you saw the vehemence when her and Tyrone Power’s character talk about Sophie’s death because she totally stole the scene. What is so amazing about Gene Tierney is that she is one heck of an actress and she has the face of an angel so she excels at playing scenes and characters where the most ugly parts of the human psyche is exposed. What I was surprised about was Fritz Kortner’s appearance in this film because I never thought I’d see him in an American film. It was like how I felt when I saw Alexander Granach in Ninotchka because I associate German silent films to Kortner. I see Kortner as one of the best Expressionist actors so to see him play his role in The Razor’s Edge with subtlety was really a treat to see. I thought that his acting alone made the film worth watching.


Image credit: Wikipedia.org

More film watching

Monday, May 11th, 2015

I’ve been naughty and have been rewatching some films. I can’t always get myself to watch new movies — I don’t know why!!!


The Age of Innocence (1993)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Geraldine Chaplin
Country: U.S.A.

First of all, I did like the film, but there were things that I felt were slightly off because of the casting of the main characters. Day-Lewis, Pfeiffer, and Ryder are great actors but I guess that I imagined these characters a certain way that I couldn’t get passed the cast. However, I do think that it says something about how great these actors are because I started seeing why these actors were chosen for their parts. Pfeiffer was graceful, the way I imagined Ellen to be; Ryder occasionally looked so sweet and innocent, which is how I saw May; and I started to get over Day-Lewis’ hair because I always imagined Newland to have a more slicked down hairdo. My ideal cast would have been John Barrymore for Newland, Mary Astor or Vivien Leigh for Ellen, and… oh May is such a hard one! Maybe Lana Turner? Joan Fontaine? Ooooh maybe Lillian Gish?!?! I think Lillian is the one I’ll stick with for May!
Because I have such an immense crush on Winona Ryder, I just have to say that the sweetness of May came through in the scene when she is reading (narrating?) the letter to Newland about agreeing to hasten the wedding. Also, she did a perfect job in the scene when she tells Newland that she is pregnant.
The only major complaint I have is the use of voiceover even though I know why it was used — I knew that voiceovers would be inevitable for this film. I wondered how in the world anyone could film this book due to how descriptive it is and how much of it is based on Newland’s perception of New York society, but I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up enjoying the film even though I hoped that Scorsese would find a way around voiceovers. I honestly was a bit wary to watch the film because I imagined that anyone who attempts to film The Age of Innocence would fail.
Beautifully shot film (especially the ending!!!) and I loved all the food porn. I still stand by that this is Scorsese’s Barry Lyndon because I didn’t expect either Scorsese or Kubrick to make the films.


Chaplin (1992)
Director: Richard Attenborough
Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Rhys, Moira Kelly, Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd
Country: U.S.A., Japan, France, Italy

Since I do not know much about Chaplin’s personal history, I don’t really have anything to compare this film too, which I am actually glad about because knowing too much about Chaplin could have made me dislike the film because all I would be doing is moan about inaccuracies or wonder why they left certain things out. But maybe the film isn’t riddled with inaccuracies since Chaplin’s daughter is in the film and I doubt she would have been in it if she strongly disagreed with it. I don’t think the film itself is made well (it is ok but I had some issues with the way they edited it), but the acting was phenomenal!!! I also loved Mary Pickford’s hair in the film and even though she wasn’t portrayed in a good light, it is true that Chaplin and Pickford did not get along so I wouldn’t be surprised if Pickford was nasty to Chaplin.
Geraldine Chaplin and Robert Downey Jr. shine in this film and seeing their performance was a joy to watch. At first I was like, “Robert can’t get away with this. He can’t be Chaplin.” but I was proven wrong because his performance was so convincing that it was as if he became Chaplin. I wouldn’t mind rewatching this movie to watch Robert Downey Jr.’s performance again because it is just that good.


Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Actors: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Cyd Charisse
Country: U.S.A.

I’ve wanted to rewatch this movie for some time and I finally got around to it! The last time (and only time) I watched this was in 2007 or 2008 and my mom told me that she enjoyed this movie a lot and that I should watch it. I loved this movie back then because I thought that it was hilarious and fell in love with Gene Kelly’s dancing. I still love the same scene, which is when The Dueling Cavalier‘s sound synchronization goes out the window; it is one of the most hilarious scenes I have seen in any film that I’ve watched.
The reason why I wanted to rewatch this film was because I remembered enjoying it but didn’t remember why I liked it so much nor did I really remember much about it. After rewatching it, I found out that I still love the movie because I find it funny, but I now love it because of all the references to film history. When I first watched it, it was when I was getting my feet wet with film history, so I knew about silent films but not much. Now that I am more aware of film history, all the scenes related to the silent-to-talkie transition resonated with me.
It was rewatching this movie that made me keenly aware of Gene Kelly’s athleticism in regards to his dancing. In the “Moses Supposes” number, seeing Gene dancing next to Donald O’Connor made me think of Fred Astaire because O’Connor is slim and his dancing isn’t as full of power and energy like Gene’s. O’Connor is a great dancer but his style is different than Gene’s, just like how Fred and Gene are very different too. I saw so much power in Gene’s dancing that I was blown away.
I still can’t get over the beauty of how that long veil moves in the “Broadway Melody” sequence — Cyd Charisse looked awesome in it! The whole “Broadway Melody” sequence also made me think that Hollywood films can be very avant-garde and artsy-fartsy too because there were times when it looked very surreal. I actually find all of Gene Kelly’s ballet sequences to be really surreal and it takes the musical genre to a whole ‘nother level. Fred and Ginger tell a story through their dancing and Gene Kelly does the same thing too, but by taking the viewers into a whole different realm than the location of the story is a bold thing to do. I guess it isn’t as jarring in this film because Gene Kelly’s character is telling his idea for The Dancing Cavalier, but it was rather surreal in On the Town and (if I remember correctly) An American in Paris.
Also, does anyone think that Gene Kelly is not a very convincing silent film actor? I don’t know what it is about him but he just doesn’t look like one!!! I know that makes no sense whatsoever because there is no “look” when it comes to an actor in a silent film. I kind of felt that way about Jean Hagan too. Don’t get me wrong though because this movie would not be the same without them and I love them in it.


On the Town (1949)
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Actors: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin, Vera-Ellen, Alice Pearce
Country: U.S.A.

Around 2008 or so, I did a Gene Kelly marathon where I would hunt down as many Gene Kelly films as I can and watch whatever I could get my hands on. After several years passed, my memory of these films waned but I remember that back then, there was a film that I considered to be better than Singin’ in the Rain in Gene’s oeuvre. The thing is, I don’t remember what the movie was called but I thought that it was this film or It’s Always Fair Weather because I remembered sailors, Frank Sinatra, and Cyd Charisse.
Now that I watched this film, I don’t think this is the movie I was thinking about but at least I know which movie has Frank Sinatra and sailors — I hope that I don’t forget again. I wonder if my taste and perceptions of movies have changed so much that I won’t know which film I preferred back then. This film was fun to watch but I didn’t think it was anything special and I don’t think I’d watch it again because there isn’t even a scene that would draw me back to this film. Oh wait, I will rewatch parts of this film because I want to learn how to do the Charleston and I think that this film shows off the dance quite well! I wonder what I thought of this film when I first watched it; this is why I need to be more vigilant with my blogging!
Between the time I first watched this film and the time I rewatched it, I was on a Bewitched kick so I was so happy to see Alice Pearce because I love her as Gladys Kravitz.
Now I need to get my hands on It’s Always Fair Weather!!!


Mr. Skeffington (1944)
Director: Vincent Sherman
Actors: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel
Country: U.S.A.

This is the first Bette Davis film that I’ve ever watched and the first time I watched it, I hated it! I hated the film, I hated Bette Davis, and I was a raging madwoman and didn’t understand the hype about this film or Bette. Well, things have changed over many many years and I think I’ve watched more Bette Davis films than Joan Crawford films >_>; I used to say that I love Joan more than Bette but I’m not too sure anymore!!! I now love them both and they’re brilliant in their own ways.
Anyway, I rewatched this film a year or two ago and I really enjoyed it and found it so touching. I don’t know why I hated it so much when I first watched it and why I found it to be such a bore then, but when I rewatched this film once again, I enjoyed it once more. When Job comes back and Fanny accepts him, my heart was wrung dry and my eyes watered from emotion.
I believe that I read this in Bette’s memoir when she said that she bluffed her way through this role because she knew she wasn’t the most beautiful woman. This film shows off Bette’s acting chops because she is totally convincing as the most desirable woman. I also find Bette to be pretty and wouldn’t mind if I looked like her at all — Warner Brothers knew how to make her up! Maybe all I need is a studio makeover?
I know I’m babbling a lot about Bette BUT HOW CAN WE FORGET CLAUDE RAINS’ PERFORMANCE? Jesus christ that man can act!!! He is so touching as Job and when Fanny keeps on mentioning his eyes, you completely understand what she means because Claude Rains is SO GOOD.


Robin Hood (1922)
Director: Allan Dwan
Actors: Douglas Fairbanks, Wallace Beery, Sam De Grasse, Enid Bennett, Paul Dickey
Country: U.S.A.

I know the basics about Fairbanks due to reading a bit about Mary Pickford but I never watched any of his films because I had this odd abhorrence towards them for no good reason. I think it’s because I felt as if the kinds of films he was known for wasn’t my type but… I WAS WRONG! My reluctance to watch a Fairbanks film ended up being the way I felt about western films: my feelings towards them were completely irrational.
I have to say that this film is something special because no other film has drawn me in that I started to whoop and holler while watching it. Without knowing, when Robin Hood was kicking some booty, I was shouting, “YOU GET THEM!”, “HOORAY!!!”, and other related things. I was laughing, squealing, and rooting for Robin Hood and this is something that I’ve never done in my entire life. I can now understand people who shout at bars while watching sports. Because no other film gave me such an interactive experience, I have to think highly of this film and put it in a special place. It’s rather odd since it’s not really a film I would watch on repeat or whenever I want to cheer up, but I can’t disregard the experience that this film gave me. I wonder if contemporary moviegoers also rooted for Robin Hood while watching this film.
Fairbanks was so charming in the role of Robin Hood. He was ok as the Earl of Huntingdon but he truly blossomed when he portrayed Robin Hood and I wanted to see more of Fairbanks and didn’t care for any of the other actors because he was a joy to watch. Kind of random, but I was surprised to like Wallace Beery in this film because I usually don’t care for him and always see him as a douchecanoe (I don’t know why), but I did like him as King Richard.
The film was shot beautifully and I couldn’t get over the gorgeous sets and elaborate costumes. Also, SERIOUS HAIR INSPIRATION IN THIS FILM. If anyone says that old films weren’t polished or as great as modern films or talkies, they need to watch this film because it has the finesse of films from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Did anyone else think of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in the scene where the court jester is murdered? Another thing that surprised me was that people getting hanged and hanged people were shown in the film — isn’t that a bit disturbing?!
I need to make a gazillion gifs from this film because there were so many great moments.
I’m glad that the ice is broken and I look forward to watching more of Fairbanks’ work!


Ninotchka (1939)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Actors: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Bela Lugosi, Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart, Alexander Granach
Country: U.S.A.

Before I start rambling about the movie, CAN WE PLEASE DISCUSS BELA LUGOSI AND ALEXANDER GRANACH BEING IN THIS FILM?! I was working on my “art project” (paper chain) while watching this movie and when the film started and the credits came on, my eyes went straight for Bela Lugosi’s name and I was like, “WTFBBQQQQQQ?!?!”, because I’ve watched this film probably 10+ times and I never noticed. When the credits came on at the end of the film, my eyes went straight for Alexander Granach and once again I had the same exact reaction as I did to Bela Lugosi’s name. HOW IN THE WORLD DID I MISS THIS THE LAST BAZILLION TIMES THAT I HAVE WATCHED THIS FILM? HOW?! I always associate Alexander Granach with German silent films (never forget the pig exit in Schatten) so to see him in an American film (and a talkie at that!) had my head reeling.
I haven’t watched Ninotchka in awhile and decided that this time around, I’m going to be a more active viewer and try to find Lubitsch’s brilliance because as much as I love Lubitsch, I also question why he is so great. Sometimes I wonder if Lubitsch is great because of the great scripts he has (I’m focusing on the sound picture era here) or if he’s great because he really brings out the greatness of a darn good script. I need to read some academic works on Lubitsch to help me out… but I should do that after I do another Lubitsch marathon! After rewatching Ninotchka, I think that maybe Lubitsch’s brilliance is that you forget everything and become a passive viewer; I just take in the jokes and have a good time. I guess that’s some dangerous filmmaking though… I think this is even more apparent in To Be or Not to Be because I always feel reluctant recommending that film because as much as I love it and find it hilarious, some people might find it offensive. I wonder how Russians would see Ninotchka, especially people who lived much of their life in the USSR.
I have a love/hate relationship with Greta Garbo but I absolutely LOVE, LOVE her in this film. I wish that she did more comedies because she is brilliant in this film. Her deadpan face expressions are perfect but she is also great when her character loosens up too. It’s a real shame that her last film, also a comedy, was kind of a dud. I remember not enjoying it when I watched it… or maybe I’ll change my mind like I did with Mr. Skeffington?

Some quick thoughts

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Since I got into grad school, I figured that I should brush up on my film knowledge before heading off because I say the following phrase too often: I’ve heard of the film, I know some things about it, but I haven’t watched it. Because of this, I am going to watch some films from my to-watch list. It’s about freaking time that I watched some of these!
I’m too tired to write fully thought out entries so this is the best I could muster.

8½ (1963)
Director: Federico Fellini
Actors: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée, Sandra Milo
Country: Italy, France
I FINALLY WATCHED THIS FILM. I FINALLY DID. AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF IT. My god, it’s beautifully shot and there were some parts of it that I loved but this was my reaction:
First third of the film: What is going on?!
Second third of the film: OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOD.
Last third of the film: What what what what?! (à la Kyle’s mom from South Park)
I will have to rewatch this after 10 years have passed, although this movie did make me wonder if I would give it a second chance if it wasn’t such a well regarded film. Also, ANOUK AIMÉE IS SO GORGEOUS IN THIS MOVIE.

Asphalt (1929)
Director: Joe May
Actors: Albert Steinrück, Else Heller, Gustav Fröhlich, Betty Amann
Country: Germany
I really loved the way the title was filmed along with the city scenes since it reminded me of Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt — I think I read that the film was filmed by the same people? It was nice to see Gustav Fröhlich in a movie that isn’t Metropolis (will forever love his pants in that movie) and Betty Amann was such a babe in this film! Can I please look awesomely vampy as her one day?! Her as Else in this movie is my vamp idol. I didn’t find the movie to be too enjoyable to watch although I found it very interesting in that I felt like the movie was a morality film. It’s like: LOOK AT ALBERT’S PARENTS. THEY ARE OLD FASHIONED THUS HAPPY AND GOOD PEOPLE BUT LOOK AT HOW THE CITY HAS CORRUPTED ALBERT BECAUSE ELSE IS THE EMBODIMENT OF MODERNIZATION. Outside of that point, the story itself was nothing special and seemed trite. I did like the happy ending though :)

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Director: Tay Garnett
Actors: Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames
Country: U.S.A.
I DON’T REALLY CARE FOR THIS FILM BUT THIS MOVIE GAVE ME SO MANY FEELLLLLSSSSSSS. Cora, played by the oh-so-beautiful Lana Turner, is often labeled as a femme fatale and maybe I have the wrong idea of the definition of femme fatales, but to me, I always see that label as connoting something negative. Well, I don’t think Cora is a femme fatale and any trouble Frank got into in his movie was his fault. I found Frank so unlikable that I couldn’t help but side with Cora and couldn’t see her as anyone bad. I think it is because she is shown to be quite human (she is often stating her goals and she is jealous when she finds out Frank had a fling) whereas my personal ultimate femme fatale is Phyllis Dietrichson, who is cool as a cucumber and has an air of mystery. If you ask me, Cora doesn’t have that cool or steeliness that Phyllis does, although that kissing scene is AMAZING when she wipes her mouth and reapplies her lipstick after the kiss.
I wouldn’t watch this film for fun again but I really need to make a gif of that kissing scene because it is too great.

The Misfits (1961)
Director: John Huston
Actors: Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach
Country: U.S.A.
I adore Marilyn Monroe and a long time ago, I decided that I’ll watch all the films she starred in but I kept pushing off watching The Misfits. I enjoyed it in the same manner that I enjoyed watching The Night of the Iguana because both films portray the characters so well.
Thelma Ritter was A+ as usual but what I found so disturbing about the film was seeing Montgomery Clift and Clark Gable. The Gable I know is the way he looked and sounded in the 1930s and to see him in this film looking so old and not having that voice of his was shocking. I didn’t know how to digest it and I felt like the charisma he had in all his older films was gone. He was good in the role but he didn’t have that sparkle that he has even in his most banal roles from the 1930s. I always associate Clift with his role in A Place in the Sun because that was the first film I saw him in and he made such a big impression on me. In The Misfits, he looked so haggard that I couldn’t get over it. What made it worse was that I felt like Marilyn Monroe looked so beautiful in this film and to see her with these two stars looking very different than what I am used to emphasized how I viewed her character in this film. Roslyn is so different from everyone around her and her beautiful appearance emphasized that amongst the other actors. The character of Roslyn is actually how I imagine Monroe to actually be: a very sensitive soul that isn’t understood by many people.

A Night in Casablanca ; 1946

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Director: Archie Mayo
Actors: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Charles Drake, Lois Collier, Sig Ruman
Country: U.S.A.

This is my first Marx Brothers movie and I thought it was ok. I still haven’t watched Duck Soup so I’m definitely not writing off the Marx Brothers as “not my cup of tea”. For the most part, I found this movie quite dull even though I adored Groucho Marx’s lines and found the gags in Count Pfferman’s (Ruman) room (when the “Count” is trying to pack) but they weren’t enough to entice me to make me want to watch another Marx Brothers film right away.

I don’t really have much to say, although surprisingly enough, I was very much put off by the last scene when the Marx Brothers’ characters chase Beatrice (Verea). I know that several old Hollywood movies make people side eye them (well, current movies too) but to see a woman express her want for a romance and have to run away from three lustful men scared me. I knew that it was meant to be comical, but I found it so disturbing and frightening that it left a really bad taste in my mouth.

Random, but it was amusing to see Sig Ruman play a Nazi because I will forever associate him with Colonel Ehrhardt from To Be or Not to Be.

IMDb Link: A Night in Casablanca

Pride and Prejudice ; 1940

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Actors: Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Maureen O’Sullivan, Ann Rutherford, Marsha Hunt, Heather Angel, Mary Boland, Edmund Gwen, Edna May Oliver
Country: U.S.A.

I haven’t finished reading Jane Austen’s famous Pride and Prejudice because I couldn’t get past the first few pages and always dreaded even glancing at the book or anything related to Austen. I came across this film while my mom was on her old film spree and thought, “Heck, I’m never going to read that bloody book so I might as well watch the movie!” I never regretted that decision.

I have no idea how this film compares to the book but I could care less since I want to look at this film as a film, not a copy of the book. I loved the story, dialogue, costumes, the actors, EVERYTHING! I couldn’t help but relate to Elizabeth, although I think that I’m much less intelligent and witty as her, but I’ve been in the whole Darcy/Elizabeth situation before. Although the ending is predictable, the film is still enjoyable, especially to see Laurence Olivier, as Mr. Darcy, kiss Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Oliver). Even though I didn’t find Greer Garson to be attractive (I guess that’s suiting since Elizabeth isn’t supposed to be pretty? But wasn’t Garson seen as a beauty in Hollywood? She’s definitely grown on me like Irene Dunne so I guess she does have something to her. Now I’m going off on a tangent), I thought she performed her part to perfection and so did Olivier. I can’t imagine anyone else playing Mr. Darcy the way Olivier did… well, except Colin Firth, but he did anyway (I should watch that adaptation). You could just hate Darcy despite his good looks in the beginning, but eventually you see him the way Elizabeth sees him and your hatred for him slowly melts away. I don’t know if I should credit that to the script writers or Olivier’s acting or Leonard’s directing: I’ll give the point to Olivier. I loved the way Garson spoke, walked around as if she was gliding across the floor, and well, she was just charming. I fell in love with Laurence Olivier the first time I saw him in this film and thought he has got to be one of the most handsome men to have graced this planet. Not only is he handsome, but he is a talented actor as well. The way he held himself in a haughty manner but then he had to portray Mr. Darcy’s vulnerable moments and he did so to such perfection that I was smitten by him and the character of Mr. Darcy. It’s hard not to admire an actor who portrays emotions and change so well with just a simple glance, a raise eyebrow, or a gesture. If people thought that Olivier was a hammy actor, all one needs to do is turn on Pride and Prejudice; actually, I think that Olivier was good in all of his performances in the now classic films — it’s just Fire Over England that didn’t strike a chord with me (I’ll blame it on being a British production. I KID!). I think he has a certain charm that makes him able to pull off anything and make it look easy and natural. I don’t know how to put how much I loved the acting of both Garson and Olivier so you must watch this film to see it for yourself!

I can find no flaws in this film and it’s something that I would probably come back to quite often to watch. I had to wait seven months to re-watch it and I loved it just as much as I did the first time I watch it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I want to watch it again in the near future.

IMDb Link: Pride and Prejudice
Where to buy: Amazon.com

Playmates ; 1941

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Director: David Butler
Actors: Kay Kyser, John Barrymore, Lupe Velez, Ginny Simms, May Robson, Patsy Kelly
Country: U.S.A.

Playmates gets a bad rep from film buffs and John Barrymore fans alike but I think that if you separate yourself from your admiration for Barrymore and get off your high horse, this film isn’t all that bad! It certainly isn’t a masterpiece but a cute little film to watch if you want a few laughs such as Ish Kabibble’s cute hairdo, Kay Kyser reciting Shakespeare, Patsy Kelly’s hilarious performance as Barrymore’s agent, and Barrymore covering Shakespeare’s ears from Kyser’s humourously awful recitation. There isn’t much to say about the film since it just felt like one of those films without much substance, but I still think it’s fun to see the film in a more positive light rather than boo-hooing and throwing tomatoes at it.

As a Barrymore fan myself, it’s a shame that he had to stoop down to the level of making fun of himself and have that performance as his last rather than some adaptation of Hamlet or Richard III, but this film still shows that Barrymore has his talent intact. Moments of greatness shows when he’s reciting Shakespeare (I could swear that those tears are real when he’s reciting Hamlet’s famous soliloquy) and his comic timing is ALWAYS perfect. I admire actors who are great in comedy and the reason I admire Barrymore so much is that he is AMAZING in comedic roles. I’m not putting down his talents for dramatic acting (he’s very good at that too), but as a fan of comedies, I love Barrymore’s comedic roles. I love how hammy he was in some parts of this film (very Oscar Jaffe-ish) and the way he contorts his face is just adorable. Yes, I called Barrymore adorable.

The film, I think, also shows how much time has passed from the days Barrymore was great to the days when Barrymore was a revered actor from the ye old days. Many Barrymore fans moan about how this film makes fun of Barrymore, but for the most part, I don’t think the jokes are that cruel. When Kyser mentions that Barrymore was a great actor, he didn’t say it with scorn but it sounded sincere. Even though Barrymore has dropped considerably from the top due to his boozing, I don’t think anyone can deny that he was once GREAT (not just good) and that he still had his stuff if he wasn’t drunk. In many ways, I felt like the film portrayed the real Barrymore (ha! How should I know right? I’m just musing from what I’ve read of him) with his reverence for Shakespeare, his occasionally big ego, and the way dramatic way he spoke. His weariness is apparent in his face and when he says sleepily that his life was dedicated to the theatre, it almost seemed like he was a tad bitter about it due to him not wanting to be an actor in the first place and also because that career path has led him to the top but also to the bottom. The cast billing is also proof of how Barrymore was no longer a box office draw. Kyser’s name is what’s presented in big letters and Barrymore comes after the title with the other supporting cast members. That’s not to say that Barrymore’s role is minor, quite on the contrary he’s in the film just as much as Kyser, but he’s no longer the main reason people would come to see this film.

Although it’s a shame that Barrymore passed away so quickly, Playmates isn’t as bad as most people would think it would be. It certainly isn’t painful to watch and isn’t cruel in the way The Great Profile was so if you ever catch it on TV, give it a chance! In all honesty, how can you resist a film where Barrymore wears tights?!

IMDb Link: Playmates
Where to buy: Not available

The Lady Is Willing ; 1942

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Actors: Marlene Dietrich, Fred MacMurray, Aline MacMahon, Stanley Ridges, Arline Judge
Country: U.S.A.

The Lady Is Willing is a lovely little screwball comedy featuring Marlene Dietrich and Fred MacMurray. For some reason I thought that this was a drama film but I was surprised to see that it was a comedy and was directed by the same director as Midnight. For the most part, the dialogue wasn’t fast paced like most screwballs but there were some really great lines such as “Go sterilize yourself. With all the money you handle and everything…” and the combination of facial expressions, timing, and movement of all the actors were really great! I never really saw Dietrich as a comedic actress but my god, she blew me away with her performance. Even from the beginning, she had me cracking up and the way she talked and her facial expressions were GOLDEN. This is probably my favourite Dietrich film of all time (I guess the von Sternberg x Dietrich OTP that I always supported just went down the drain) because I think it showcased her acting talents on top of her good looks. I’ve admired Dietrich mostly for her presence on the screen (and her crazy life) and for the most part, I saw her acting talents in the shadows except for the few moments when they really came out (e.g. Judgment at Nuremberg and Witness for the Prosecution). In The Lady Is Willing, Dietrich was lovely to look at but the way she acted had me enthralled every moment that she was on the screen. It’s really a shame that she wasn’t in more comedies because I think The Lady Is Willing proved that she’s a capable comedienne who has great timing in regards to the way she delivered her lines and the way she changed her facial expressions. I knew that Dietrich was fluent in English, but the way she delivered some of the lines really shocked me. Even as an American, I don’t think I would be able to say that long speedy ramble she did. It is most definite that Dietrich totally stole the spotlight in this film and it’s hard to even think of anything else about this film except for her.
My favourite scene has to be the beginning when Dietrich’s character, Liza Madden, walks in with a baby. The events that ensue inside her apartment are rather hilarious, but it is Dietrich’s performance that had me in stitches. The AMAZING hat that she wore (which the other characters in the film call “screwy”) added a comedic effect and complimented the way Dietrich moved and talked. The way those feathers swished around when she was calling the doctor (MacMurray) had me laughing so hard that I had to pause the film to laugh.

Do I recommend this film? YES! I recommend it to all fans of comedy and Dietrich. Trust me, dear Marlene will not let you down.

IMDb Link: The Lady Is Willing
Where to buy: Amazon.com

Suspicion ; 1941

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Actors: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty
Country: U.S.A.

First of all, happy new year! I hope that everyone had a lovely 2009 and that 2010 will be even better.

Although I am always scared and have a sense of dread before watching a Hitchcock film, I never regret it afterwards. Suspicion is definitely not an exception to this rule and I was at the edge of my seat throughout the whole film. Underneath all the suspense, there were also moments of warm-fuzziness and humour, which I enjoyed immensely. My only problem with it is the rushed feeling at the end, but it sort of makes sense since Hitchcock didn’t want the ending that it is in the final cut. The plot is great, hands down, but what makes this film great in my opinion is the lighting and how that effects the mood of the scene. This may seem trivial but I loved how the milk glowed in the scene where Johnny (Grant) takes it up to give it to Lina (Fontaine) and even when he first enters into the scene, it makes Johnny’s entrance terrifying, thus the audience relates to the fear that Lina feels. I heard in a documentary that Hitchcock actually put a little light in there to make it glow. Although Hitchcock did not want the ending that ended up in the final cut, I thought that because of it, it had the little twist that I always look forward to in Hitchcock films

Even though Joan Fontaine won the Oscar for her performance in this film, I thought that it should have been Cary Grant who got the recognition for his acting. I always saw Grant in romantic comedies so when I saw him in this role, I was surprised by how well he was suited for the part. I never really saw Cary Grant as an amazing actor, but when I saw him in this film, I couldn’t help but think that he was splendid.

I am astounded by how Hitchcock films never fails to disappoint me and I hope that everyone else who watches this film enjoys it as much as I did.

IMDb Link: Suspicion
Where to buy: Amazon.com

Waterloo Bridge ; 1940

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Actors: Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, Lucile Watson, Virginia Field, Maria Ouspenskaya
Country: U.S.A.

I adore this movie so much. Not many films can make me cry, but Waterloo Bridge has succeeded in making me cry twice. I did enjoy watching the original version of this film, but this is the one that has a special place in my heart.

What surprised me was the transformation that Myra (Leigh) went through from the beginning towards the end. I guess it’s the makeup and clothes, but something about Myra looked cheap and gaudy when she was at the Waterloo Station looking for a prospective customer. I suppose the way Myra held herself and glanced around that made me realize what her job was, but even her physical appearance gave away her profession. I can’t point out what it is because the makeup is fine and her clothes are nice, but there’s just SOMETHING that is different. I can only point it to Vivien Leigh’s fine acting that pulls the point across and makes the pretty clothes and normal makeup look cheap. It’s just like Mae Clarke’s performance in the original: it’s just something that I can’t put my finger on that makes the audience know even though the action of their profession isn’t seen.

Robert Taylor was fantastic as Roy and I loved everyone else in this film. I have no complaints about this film and I wish that more people knew about it. And boy, Vivien Leigh is as gorgeous as ever.

IMDb Link: Waterloo Bridge
Where to buy: Amazon.com

Christmas in July ; 1940

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Director: Preston Sturges
Actors: Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn, Alexander Carr, William Demarest, Ernest Truex, Franklin Pangborn
Country: U.S.A.

I finally got my paws on more Preston Sturges films and I was excited to watch them. I watched The Great Moment and was disappointed but I remembered reading that The Great Moment was butchered by Paramount (or one of the major studios) so I decided that I shouldn’t judge Sturges for that film. But then I watched this and wondered what in the world made Sturges make it. The acting was mediocre, although I did like Ellen Drew as Betty. It had some cute moments and I can see some of Sturges’ usual style but this film was so… bland. I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone unless they want to see all of Sturges’ works; I can’t even come up with one redeeming quality for this film.

IMDb Link: Christmas in July
Where to buy: Amazon.com (DVD – part of “Preston Sturges – The Filmmaker Collection”) ; Amazon.com (VHS)