Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #144: Rivals

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is rivals, and as a fan of and blogger about older movies, it's no surprise that I've piced three older movies:

Front Page Woman (1935). Bette Davis plays a lady journalist who has a rival in George Brent in that each of them tries to scoop the other. Bette and George get involved in a fire that turns out to be a red herring for the murder of a gangster, and engage in all sorts of shenanigans to try to break the case, much of which would be illegal. It's a routine programmer, but with Bette Davis and George Brent involved, you get a lot of entertainment value.

School for Scoundrels (1960). Ian Carmichael plays a man who loses his girlfriend to Terry-Thomas, and decides he's going to take "lifemanship" courses from Alastair Sim to gain confidence and get the girl back. These courses really just teach people to be even more smarmy and scheming than the characters Jack Carson played (watch Mildred Pierce for an excellent example). Complications ensue. If you enjoy watching the sort of characters portrayed, you'll love the movie; I find them a bit more grating.

The Wrong Box (1966). Two elderly brothers (Ralph Richardson and John Mills) are the last surviving members of a tontine, a sort of insurance scheme/lottery in which the money put in is paid out to the last survivor. Mills wants to kill off his brother so his grandson (Michael Caine) can get the money. Richardson doesn't seem to care about the money, but his nephews presumably on his wife's side (Dudley Moore and Peter Cook) do care about the money. Caine falls in love with Richardson's niece (Nanette Newman). Again, all sorts of complications ensue. Another movie where there were parts that irritated me, but that a lot of people will really, really love.


Wendell Ottley said...

I haven't seen any of these. School for Scoundrels has been on my radar forever. Just haven't gotten around to it yet. Thanks for the kick in the pants to motivate me.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

School for Scoundrels I found on a cheap DVD at Amazon when I was looking for a DVD of Make Mine Mink, and since I'm willing to try anything with Terry-Thomas I picked it up. It was remade about 10 years ago with Billy Bob Thornton as the professor. Um, OK....

joel65913 said...

Love that you chose Front Page Woman! I know it's one of the many programmers that she made on the way up that Bette heaped with scorn but it's an inoffensive and quick paced little number that she gives her usual intensity no matter what she privately thought of it.

I don't love The Wrong Box but with that cast it was certainly worth the time I put in to watch it.

Like Dell School for Scoundrels has been on my watchlist for years but I've never quite gotten around to see it yet. I LOVE Jack Carson and he was aces at purveying that particular type of weasel but that was because his innate charm eased the more reprehensible attributes of those characters, a whole school of them might not be as pleasant but I'll still give the film a whirl.

I usually reach back for picks too but this week my three are of a more recent vintage though not brand new.

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)-Lavish version of the Dumas story of rivalry over a woman, one friend’s betrayal of another leading to an island imprisonment and the revenge extracted upon escape by the Count of Monte Cristo. Excitingly directed with beautiful production design and two robust lead performances by Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce. A just starting out Henry Cavill has a prominent role in the latter half of the film.

Happy Gilmore (1996)-Temperamental and frustrated hockey player Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) discovers he needs to find some way to save his grandmother’s house. As he’s mocking someone for liking golf he finds he has a powerful swing and on a lark enters the PGA tour where he quickly incurs the enmity of a star of the circuit, Shooter McGavin (Christopher MacDonald). They become rivals for the prize with Shooter resorting to ever more drastic measures. Not a classic but from the period when Sandler was at least trying to make an effort to turn out entertaining films.

The War of the Roses (1989)-Oliver and Barbara Rose (Michael Douglas & Kathleen Turner) were once a happily married couple and through the years have acquired a couple of kids, a comfortable life and a beautiful home. But those days are over and while the two freely admit they want out of their commitment to each other what neither wants is out of their house. So begins a fierce combative rivalry for sole ownership with the lengths each will go to escalating to fearsome heights to emerge the victor as their divorce attorney D’Amato (Danny DeVito) takes it all in from the sidelines.

Birgit said...

I have not seen any but such great choices. The first one sounds like it was remade with Julia Roberts but can't recall the name.

Daniel said...


My high school AP English showed us this at the end of the year for some unfathomable reason and I became very quickly obsessed with it because it's so utterly bizarre. We also had to watch it 45-minute chunks or so, and when I sat down years later to watch it on TCM, it wasn't as much fun as I remembered. The pacing is weird and the super funny parts are really spread out. But those super funny parts are SO funny that I kinda love it anyway.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...


I believe you're thinking of I Love Trouble. I don't know that it's a remake, especially since lady reporters (think Glenda Farrell as Torchy Blane) were a thing in 1930s programmers. As were male/female rival pairs where the two wind up falling in love.


The Wrong Box is based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story, although I'm not certain why an English teacher would pick that particular story to show the movie version of. And yes there's a lot of weirdness to the movie, especially those title cards that are trying to be psychedelic.