Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lewis Gilbert, 1920-2018

Lewis Gilbert, whose career as a director included multiple James Bond films like You Only Live Twice and Moonraker (watch for Gilbert's name at about 2:43 in the credits above), has died aged 97.

Apparently Gilbert actually started off as an actor, appearing in small roles in movies like Laurence Olivier's The Divorce of Lady X before World War II. But Gilbert wanted to be a director, which led him to become an assistant director and then work with film units during World War II.

Gilbert would go on to have a varied career. In addition to the Bond movies, there's lesser-known British stuff like Carve Her Name With Pride, the story of real-life spy Violette Szabo, and Michael Caine's Alfie.

Here's an interesting listings screw-up

So I was looking to see if there was anything worth adding to the DVR in the next few days. TCM is finishing up 31 Days of Oscar with a week or so of movies nominated for Best Picture during the daytime, and movies that actually won Best Picture in the evening lineup.

According to the online weekly schedule and the monthly schedule for March which I finally got around to downloading, tonight's lineup is a bunch of war movies: Bridge on the River Kwai, Patton, From Here to Eternity, and Casablanca. Then, in prime time tomorrow, we're supposed to get musicals: An American in Paris, My Fair Lady, Oliver!, and The Broadway Melody.

However, imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon when I was looking through the schedule and saw Bridge on the River Kwai show up at 8:00 PM Thursday. My first thought was, "Didn't I just see that on the schedule?" Sure enough, when I went back 24 hours, there it was on the schedule. I don't know how often the listings services update their schedules, but the repeat prime time lineup was still on there this morning. More oddly is that I don't know how this particular screwup could happen.

Both nights, the last movie ends in time for the first movie of the day to begin at 6:00 AM, so the box guide listings for Thursday and Friday mornings agree with what's on TCM's site. I don't know what listings provider other cable and satellite systems' box guides use, but it's a heads-up for all of you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cross cross cross

Another recent movie viewing for me that's available from the Warner Archive is Triple Cross.

The movie starts off with a bang, quite literally, as an explosion goes off opening up a safe somehwere in fashionable London of the 1930s. Rifling through the safe and walking off with the valuable jewels is Eddie Chapman, played by Christopher Plummer. As you can tell by the link, Eddie Chapman was a real person, leading what was known as the "Jelly Gang" or "Gelignite Gang", after the explosive used to crack the safes.

Anyhow, the law was about to catch up with Eddie, so he fled Britain for Jersey, in the Channel Islands because apparently the Channel Island's semi-autonomous nature made extradition to Britain more difficult. Of course, Eddie kept committing crimes, and would eventually be caught and jailed on Jersey.

If you noticed the date at the beginning, you should know that the late 1930s means World War II was on the horizon. And if you remember your history, you'll recall that the Germans occupied the Channel Islands starting in June 1940. So Chapman eventually ended up in a prison in France. With all those criminal skills and a possible 14-year sentence awaiting him back in Britain, he presented himself as a model candidate to spy against Britain for the Nazis, with his handlers in the movie taking the form of a Baron (Yul Brynner), a Countess (Romy Schneider), and a Nazi colonel (Gert Fröbe). They eventually decided that Chapman was loyal enough that they could send him on a sabotage mission to Britain.

Of course, Chapman was only loyal to himself. Once in Britain, Chapman started meeting with the British, in the form of a "Distinguished Civilian" (I believe his name is never given), played by Trevor Howard. Now, the British think Chapman is dead because of course the Nazis made a point of staging a phony execution. Why the British in the movie didn't fingerprint him is beyond me. Chapman is willing to work for the British, but as the cost of them pardoning him for all crimes he committed in the past.

Once the British decide that Chapman probably is loyal to them, or at least as loyal as he's ever going to be, they prepare him for a mission back in occupied France.

Eddie Chapman's story sounds like an exciting one, full of twists and turns and the backstabbing that a title like Triple Cross implies. And yet, the movie makes Chapman's story seem decidedly pedestrian. It's not that the movie is bad by any means, but it seems slow and makes it feel as though there was really surprisingly little going on with Chapman's service during the war.

The acting is uniformly competent if not great, and the cinematography is nice. But the movie feels like it could have been so much more.

Update on IMDb reviews

Back in December, I noticed that the user review pages for movies on IMDb had been changed so that there was no longer any way to sort the reviews. Well, they've added a bit of functionality back. I was looking at the reviews for one of the movies I recently watched, and noticed that the dropdown box now offers the option to select reviews based on helpfulness, date, or total votes. There's also an arrow next to the dropdown box to select in either ascending or descending order.

The reviews pages, however, are still in the mobile-friendly format where you have to click more to see the entire review, and there's just a "load more" button at the bottom instead of being able to go to a specific page of reviews. And as far as I can tell, there's still no link to an individual review. I have no idea when or if IMDb is planning to bring back this functionality.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A couple of deaths I should have mentioned

Nanette Fabray died last week at the age of 97. Fabray had a long career on stage, TV, and in movies, with the movie part of the career going all the way back to the 1930s. Fabray plays a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth in 1939's The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. I've got that one on DVD as part of an Errol Flynn box set, but I don't remember where in the movie Fabray's scenes come in, so I wouldn't be able to do a screenshot without re-watching the whole movie. Fabray was also in musicals like The Band Wagon, but those Freed Unit musicals are for the most part not my favorite thing.

I'd never heard of Sridevi Kapoor was apparently a huge star in Bollywood. She died in Dubai over the weekend. I listen to various international broadcaster podcasts, and had seen her name show up in Wikipedia's list of deaths, but was still surprised by the amount of attention All-India Radio's English-language news bulletin gave her death, even getting the comments of a prominent cricket player of all things. She apparently starred in a couple hundred movies in the various parts of the Indian film industry. I suppose it's easy for Americans to forget that Indian cinema isn't just Bollywood, which is really only the Hindi language films centered in Bombay. There are several other languages with tens of millions of speakers which all have their own vibrant film industries.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Jiří Menzel at 80

One of the reports in Friday's edition of Radio Prague's English program that I listen to via podcast was about the 80th birthday of Czech New Wave director Jiří Menzel. Menzel is probably best known for Closely Watched Trains, a movie that I have to admit I'm not the biggets fan of. I like the basic story idea, but the subplots about the boss using the stamp on his secretary's behind for kinky reasons, along with the main character's sexual neurosis, were things I didn't care for. Other than Closely Watched Trains, I have to admit that I don't really know Menzel's work.

Radio Prague's report, which includes a couple of photos, is here As always, Radio Prague has a transcript, while there's also the opportunity to listen either via streaming audio, or to download an MP3 and listen at your leisure. The MP3 link is here; it's 1.5MB and about three minutes.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Thoroughly unmodern

A recent watch off my DVR was Millie. The TCM Shop lists on DVD that's clearly out of print because it's on backorder, and one that's supposedly a double-bill with 1931's Indiscreet but for which no artwork is available. Amazon has a few copies of the first DVD available, as well as streaming audio for those who can do it. So I'll reluctantly do a full-length post on it for the benefit of the streamers out there. Well, there are other good reasons to be a bit reluctant about it.

Helen Twelvetrees (her married name, not something a studio imposed on her) plays Millie, who at the beginning of the movie is a hot young girl in a college town who meets rich Jack Maitland (James Hall). They fall in love and get married, moving to the big city. They then have a daughter, but it turns out that Jack is busy with a mistress on the side. When that happens, Millie files for divorce but rather stupidly gives up custody of the child (well, rich Grandma can help take care of the child) and alimony, preferring to live independently.

Time passes, as a title card tells us, "Three years later." Millie becomes quite the party girl, having a series of men, notably newspaperman Tommy (Robert Ames) and older businessman Jimmy (John Halliday). But Millie still wants to be independent. More time passes -- another title card moves the action forward another eight years -- and by now Millie's daughter Connie (Anita Louise) is a hot teenager. One of Jimmy's friends has taken up going to church so he can perv on Connie, and Jimmy follows suit!

Connie is too naïve to get what Jimmy is up to, but when Millie finds out that Jimmy is taking Connie not to Connie's boarding school but stopping off at his cabin on the way, she knows the score. There are shades of the eight zillion versions of Madame X here, except that Connie knows fully well who Millie is when she shoots Jimmy. Millie, however, has no desire to reveal that Jimmy was trying to deflower Connie when the case goes to trial.

Boy is Millie a dated melodrama. In many ways there's not much going on here, as the real action of Millie's shooting Jimmy and going on trial only happens in the last two reels of the movie. Before that it's an hour of partying that doesn't have much of a plot. And Millie's refusal to take alimony is just bizarre.

There was enough stupidity for me in Millie that I found the whole thing maddening. And I haven't even mentioned the trial yet. There are two bright spots in the form of small roles for Joan Blondell and Frank McHugh very early in their careers. But that wasn't enough to save the movie for me. As always, though, you may want to judge for yourself.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Meet George Jessel

Not being able to think of anything to do a post on, I decided to continue going through my Warner Bros. Gangsters Collection set and watching another short. This time, it was George Jessel and His Russian Art Choir.

The title is accuracte. Host George Jessel, who was known for being a host because he sure couldn't act based on what I've seen of him here and in The Phynx, comes out and gives a couple of really dumb jokey comments and then points out that he saw a wonderful Russian choir on his European travels. The come out and sing some Russian songs and an American song.

I have no idea if this was actually even an authentic Russian choir. Certainly I have serious doubts about whether it was any sort of cultural exchange with the Soviet Union, although James FitzPatrick was able to go to the Soviet Union in the early 1930s and film the footage for what would become the 1932 short Moscow, Heart of Soviet Russia. It's possible this could be a choir that had already emigrated, and it's possible that it's completely bogus.

This is a fairly flat short that has little to nothing happening. There's not even any inventive camera movement in filming the choir. But it's an extra on a DVD of a pretty good movie (Smart Money) in a wonderful box set, so I really can't complain.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #189: Legal Dramas (TV edition)

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This being the last Thursday of the month, it's time for another TV edition, with the theme for this month being legal dramas. This one was a bit more difficult for me, since I don't watch much episodic TV, and since I used Perry Mason last month. At any rate, I was able to come up with three items that fit the theme:

L.A. Law (1986-1994). I never watched this one since I wasn't really old enough at the start of the series and it was on at 10:00 PM Thursday. But it was quite popular back in the day, looking behind the scenes and at the personal lives of the members of a law firm, much the way later shows like ER would do for an emergency room.

Matlock (1986-1995). Andy Griffith plays a southern version of Perry Mason, using his aw-shucks charm to make the real criminal confess on the witness stand. This one was immensely popular in reruns, and of course, was parodied as the show all the seniors liked on The Simpsons.

Gideon's Trumpet (1980 TV movie). Henry Fonda plays Clarence Gideon, a defendant who was too poor to afford an attorney. The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution already was interpreted to mean that a defendant in a federal case had to have his legal care provided if he couldn't afford it himself, but at the time of Gideon's case, that wasn't so for cases in the state courts. Gideon sued, and eventually the case went all the say to the Supreme Court. José Ferrer played Abe Fortas, who argued Gideon's case before the Supreme Court and would later become a Supreme Court justice himself. The actual Supreme Court justices aren't named, but include an all-star cast of John Houseman, Sam Jaffe, and Dean Jagger.

Out-of-print updte

About two years ago I mentioned Babes in Arms, the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "let's put on a show!" musica that introduced the sond "Good Morning" to the world. It had gotten a DVD release, most recently on one of those four film box sets TCM and Warner Home Video like to put out, but that's apparently out of print because it's not available from the TCM Shop. Babes in Arms is on TCM at 6:15 PM today for those who want to watch. It's still not back in print on DVD, although looking it up on Amazon, it seems to be available via streaming right now, for those who can do that thing.

Then there's Goodbye, Mr. Chips which follows at 8:00 PM. This being 31 Days of Oscar, we get the 1939 version which won Robert Donat a Best Actor Oscar: today's category is the Best Actor Oscar, and you'll recall that Mickey Rooney got a nomination for it. The TCM schedule page implies that Goodbye, Mr. Chips is not available from the TCM Shop, but if you go to the TCM Shop, you'll find the Warner Archive DVD. (It's also available on Amazon Video.) The musical version with Peter O'Toole is also available for masochists.

Watch on the Rhine (noon today) is out of print on DVD, but another one currently available on Amazon Video. Well, I should add the caveat that Amazon returns a search result that you can watch these movies on Amazon streaming. Since I don't do streaming, I can't check and am not about to pay to check even if I could. Watch on the Rhine only offers an option to buy, while Babes in Arms and Goodbye, Mr. Chips all claim to offer the option to rent or buy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Zachary Scott, 1914-1965

Joan Crawford and Zachary Scott in that beach house in a scene from Mildred Pierce (1945)

Today marks the birth anniversary of actor Zachary Scott, who was born on this day in 1914. Scott was a mainstay at Warner Bros. in the second half of the 1940s, playing a bunch of characters whose job it seems to have been to make the female leads look good. There's Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce, in what was probably Scott's best role, and then Crawford again in Flamingo Road at the end of the 1940s.

In between, there was also stuff like Stallion Road, one which TCM doesn't show very often, even though it was a Warner Bros. movie and it's also got Ronald Reagan as the star, with Scott in a supporting role. Alexis Smith [edit: it's not Ann Sheridan as I originally wrote] is the female lead in the photo above.

As for a Scott lead, there's The Southerner, in which Scott plays a sharecropper who decides he's going to try to strike out on his own, with all the problems that causes. At least he's not getting Liv Ullmann pregnant all the time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Another movie in my recent viewing schedule was The Emigrants. It's on a Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray along with the follow-up movie The New Land (which I haven't seen, and I DVRed The Emigrants so I don't have The New Land at hand).

The film according to the opening titles, opens in a rural parish in the southern Swedish province of Småland in 1844. Karl-Oskar (Max von Sydow) and his family are subsistence farmers there, always up against it with one disaster after the other. Indeed, in the first sequence we see Karl-Oskar's father getting his leg broken when a boulder rolls over on it. Meanwhile, the harvests are never good, and the lack of food and money is a constant source of friction between Karl-Oskar and his wife Kristina (Liv Ullmann), who it seems is constantly pregnant.

Meanwhile, the extended family has problems. Karl-Oskar's kid brother Robert has been hired out as a farmhand, but Robert is a dreamer and not a very good farmhand. His lack of work constantly gets him into trouble, ultimately getting him smacked on the ear hard enough to cause constant ringing in it. And then there's Kristina's uncle Danjel, a renegade preacher who has views on the Gospel that the official Swedish Lutheran church doesn't exactly agree with.

The disasters just keep on coming, and Robert tells them all what he's read about America, a land that's growing and where the land is free. Ultimately, one of Kristina and Karl-Oskar's daughters dies, and she finally agrees that perhaps going to America to start a new life might be worth a try. They can't fail any worse than they're failing in Småland, after all.

So they set out on the long transatlantic voyage, which is fraught with difficulties, and even when they land, it's still going to be a long way before they get to a cousin's place in what is now Minnesota (it was still a territory at the time, not becoming a state until 1858).

The Emigrants is a very well-made movie. Most of the actors give good performances, and the story is for the most part a good one. I also found the cinematography good, along with the set and costume design. There was, however, one problem that I did have, which is that the movie is extremely slow. The version I DVRed was the American version, dubbed into English and having 40 minutes cut out. Still, it runs 150 minutes, and since we know there's a sequel The New Land, the movie only gets to when they stake their claims in Minnesota. The hardships of trying to develop that new land are a completely different story.

Anyhow, the lead-up to the family finally deciding to emigrate has so many disasters that you almost wonder whether somebody was trying to parody the idea of how difficult 19th century farming life was. And it's not just the constant, unrelenting disasters; it's that they're all drawn out. We get the point.

Still, The Emigrants is certainly worth watching at least once.

Monday, February 19, 2018

U trailers

The only extra on the cheap DVD of It Always Rains on Sunday that I watched and blogged about over the weekend is a theatrical trailer. There were two things I immediately noticed:

The trailer starts out with what is obviously a card for an overseas print. I don't think we would have gotten one like this in America, and not just because the US was not part of the British Empire. In the us, the movie was distributed by Eagle-Lion films, which handled the Rank Organisation stuff among others. More interesting was the next card, however:

At the time the movie was made in Britain, there were only two ratings: U for "Universal" and A which technically meant "Adult" but would probably be more accurately viewed as a parental guidance suggestion in some cases. This particular movie is not as much something I'd think parents would be offended by if their children watched it with them; instead it's more likely that the children would just be bored. (I don't think there's that much in the movie that's significantly more violent than the trailer.) As I watched the trailer, however, I was thinking more about the idea that they'd make a trailer with a different rating than the movie. But then it hit me that they do the same in the US too. Trailers get rated too, and I'd assume distributors would want to be able to show trailers of A movies even when they were running a U movie.

FXM schedule heads up, February 20, 2018

I haven't done many full-length reviews recently of movies coming up on FXM Retro thanks to my work schedule. When I was helping take care of Mom, it was easy to watch a movie one morning when the movie was on FXM Retro (or the Fox Movie Channel when it was still called that) and then blog about it in the afternoon because it was going to be on the next morning. Now I can only really do that if the first showing is on a weekend, as I think I did with The Dolly Sisters a few months back.

The other issue, of course, is with how many movies I've seen and already done posts on. There are days of movies where I've done posts on pretty much every movie, or haven't seen the movie in ages. Such is the case with tomorrow's lineup. It starts off at 4:00 AM with Holiday for Lovers, a mediocre "chase teen daughter in love across exotic destinations" movie. It also concludes the day's schedule at 1:15 PM.

That's followed at 6:00 AM by The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe, a pretty bad movie that as I understand it isn't particularly accurate at all, with a bland male lead.

The Mudlark comes on at 10:00 AM tomorrow, although you could also see it at 10:25 AM today. This one actually did have a Fox MOD release on DVD at the time I posted it, and that release is still available from the TCM Shop.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Briefs for February 18-19, 2018

Most of my movie watching to clear up space on the DVR recently has been stuff that's out of print on DVD. A month ago, there was a DirecTV free preview of the Starz/Encore channels, which was where I watched The Shooting that I reviewed not long ago. I had recorded another movie, An American Werewolf in London to do a review on that. I didn't notice until I went to watch it this morning, however, that I had misfigured when the free preview ended, and this showing was after it. Crap.

Anyhow, I'll give brief mention to Gunman in the Streets. This is an odd little movie in that it was made in France with Dane Clark and a bunch of French actors who could speak English. I've mentioned a similar thing that happened in the UK of movies being made there with one American star and a bunch of British actors with the presence of the American presumably being to make it easier to get distribution in America. I didn't realize it had been done in France, too. But that provenance is probably why it's not on DVD. It's too bad Gunman in the Streets isn't very good. And as I was watching, I had the distinct feeling I had seen it before. I probably had, and that lack of memorableness was why I didn't find the movie very good.

There was also The Falcon and the Coeds. Tom Conway plays the Falcon, this time investigating a death at a private girls' school. It's officially heart disease, but the Falcon's investigation gets it changed first to suicide and then to murder. Fans of the Falcon movies will probably like it, although they'll probably already have seen it. The credits say that a young Dorothy Malone plays one of the students, but I didn't notice her. I probably just wasn't paying close enough attention to look for her.

Lassie Lou Ahern died last week aged 97. She was a baby star at the end of the silent era, appearing in some of the Our Gang shorts as well as the silent version of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Her elder sister Peggy was also an actress, and after leaving films the two did a stage show together. Peggy also lived to be very elderly, dying in 2012 at the age of 95.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

It Always Rains on Sunday

Recently I watched It Always Rains on Sunday, off one of those cheap DVD-Rs put out by some company selling a bunch of British movies on DVD-R.

Rose Sandigate (Googie Withers) is the stepmother in a family with her husband George (Edward Chapman), adult daughters Doris (Patricia Plunkett) and Vi (Susan Shaw), and son Alfie. They live in the East End of London where Rose is a housewife and the two daughters both have boyfriends, Doris' being a good working-class guy and Vi's being married bandleader Morry (Sydney Tafler). Vi's high living has her coming home late one Saturday night, by which time the Sunday morning papers are already out and we learn from a small notice on one of those that a Tommy Swann (John McCallum) has escaped from Dartmoor prison.

The obviousness with which the newspaper shows that headline is a sign that Tommy is going to play an important part in the movie, and sure enough, that happens in the morning. One of the windowpanes in the Sandigates' back door is broken, and it's suggested to use the blackout paper left over from the war to cover it up. (The movie was released in 1947, so there are other references to the recently concluded war, such as one about rationing.) Rose goes out to the shed, and finds Tommy.

Tommy had good reason for showing up there: Rose was his girlfriend before he wound up in prison. He's come to her asking for help to hide him until he can get away at night. Of course, he didn't know that Rose got married in the meantime, which causes all sorts of conflicts. For Rose, the marriage to George was in part a marriage of convenience, but she seems to have grown to like George, and certainly young Alfie. The two adult daughters are still more resentful.

Against the backdrop of all this are the personal dramas of the two adult daughters' relationships. Doris runs into Morry's brother Lou (John Slater) who offers her a higher-paying job, although it might not be an honest job. Vi's staying out until all hours gets her into trouble at home and her relationship with Morry could cause problems when Alfie and his friend catch the two kissin in Morry's record-store day job. There's also a couple of Tommy's friends who are trying to fence some stolen goods which unfortunately for them turned out to be roller skates and not anything valuable.

It Always Rains on Sunday is a complex movie with a lot going on, but it's actually a pretty good movie. The main story of the man on the run is an old one but solidly presented here, and the subplots are all handled well, even coming together nicely at times. There's also excellent atmosphere of London's East End. One thing that surprised me was the portrayal of Morry and Lou as obviously Jewish, down to their use of Yiddish slang. Sure there's a Jewish community in London, but I don't think it's something that gets shown on the screen very much.

I can highly recommend It Always Rains on Sunday.

Friday, February 16, 2018

10 Rillington Place

Over the weekend, I got around to watching 10 Rillington Place off my DVR, which I had recorded as part of a night of true crime stories on TCM. It's available on DVD courtesy of the Sony/Columbia MOD scheme, so I'm OK doing a full-length post on it.

We know right away that this is true crime, based on a title card that precedes any action: "This is a true story. Wherever possible the dialogue has been based on official documents." We hear this over an air-raid siren, and cut to London during the 1944 blitz. Muriel Eady comes to 10 Rillington Place, the home of John Reginald Christie (Richard Attenborough), looking for some help with her bronchitis. She doesn't realize that Christie is about to kill her! With that, we know right away that Christie is a murderer, so it's not as if we're giving anything away here.

Fast forward to 1949. A young couple with a baby, Timothy and Beryl Evans (John Hurt and Judy Geeson respectively) come to 10 Rillington Place because there are a couple of rooms to let, and they need rooms cheaply. Timothy is an illiterate and relatively dim type who drives a truck but as things stand is probably never going to be able to make much more of himself in life. There are money problems and arguments with the wife, but things are about to get a whole lot worse.

During one of the arguments, Beryl tells Timothy that she's going to have another baby. The only thing is, there's no way the two of them can afford a second child. Beryl would be willing to have an abortion, except that this being the 1940s, it was still highly illegal. Christie, however, suggests that he had some medical training during the war, and that he would be able to perform an abortion, although it's not without its risks.

Of course, Christie uses this as an opportunity to kill Beryl, too, giving him a perfect excuse that the death happened during the botched abortion, which of course it didn't. But Timothy doesn't know that, and with his illiteracy and generally not being very bright, it's easy for the manipulative Christie to convince Timothy that he would be in serious hot water if word of the abortion ever came out. They'll bury Beryl's body surreptitiously, and Christie will give the baby to foster parents to look after while Timothy goes away for a while.

To cut a long story short, Timothy has pangs of guilt and decides to report Beryl's death to the authorities and where Christie said he was going to bury Beryl. The only thing is, Beryl's body isn't there. When they do find Beryl's body, they also find the baby's body, and the cops naturally put suspicion on Timothy, wheedling a confession out of him. The fact that Christie had long been known to the police is a shocking oversight, but it really did happen that way. Timothy goes on trial, is convicted, and hanged. It's still not over for Christie, however....

I can highly recommend 10 Rillington Place. It's much more effective an anti-execution movie than something like I Want to Live! in part because it's not beating you over the head with it. Attenborough and Hurt both give excellent performances. Hurt looks hollow-eyed as he has no clue what's happening to him; apparently the real-life Tim Evans couldn't put two and two together and come up with a motive for why Christie would kill the baby. Attenborough, for his part, is chillingly manipulative. The banality of evil and all that.

The filmmakers tried to use original locations as much as possible, which gives the movie a suitably cramped and downmarket look. It's also a bit of a time capsule in that Rillington Place underwent urban renewal not long after the movie was made, and Rillington Place no longer exists, being in the now-fashionable Notting Hill district.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #188: Breaking into song in non-musical movies

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week, the theme is movies in which people break out into a song, but which aren't musicals. Unfortunately, I used It Happened One Night, which would be perfect here for the scene in which everybody on the bus starts singing "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze". After some thought, however, I came up with three other movies that fit the theme to greater or lesser degrees:

Manhattan Melodrama (1934). Technically, it's not any of the main characters breaking into song; it's a nightclub show. But what a song. The lyrics probably don't sound familiar, but even if you didn't see the title of the Youtube video, you might be able to guess the tune:

The movie itself is pretty good, too: Clark Gable and William Powell plays friends since childhood. Gable grows up to become a bootlegger, Powell a crusading politician. Their paths cross over Myrna Loy, and Gable's willingness to go to unorthodox means to protect Powell's political career once he decides to run for governor. And if you haven't seen it, it's going to be on TCM tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM.

The Strawberry Blonde (1941). James Cagney plays a man who's just gotten out of prison circa 1900 who studied dentistry in prison. His old friend Jack Carson needs emergency dental work one Sunday afternoon. But we learn in flashback how Carson got Cagney into prison, and how Carson got the strawberry blonde (Rita Hayworth), while Cagney had to settle for Olivia de Havilland. The movie ends after the credits with a singalong of "The Band Played On", encouraging the audience to sing.

On the Beach (1959). Nuclear war has destroyed Earth, with the exception of Australia, which still hasn't succumbed because the prevailing winds haven't brought as much of the radiation to Australia. But its time is coming. One scene has a bunch of people enjoying a weekend out in the country, at which point they all break into "Waltzing Matilda". An all-star cast of non-Australians, including Fred Astaire in a rare dramatic non-dancing role, is on hand for the proceedings.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Schedule update for February 14-15, 2018

I had a post I was going to do today, until I got sick last night and don't want to do anything but lie in bed. So I decided to look at what's coming up on the TCM schedule instead. I see that I already missed this morning's showing of Random Harvest, which I used in the last Thursday Movie Picks post. Not that I like the movie, but I'm sure some of you would have liked the chance to see it.

Anyhow, another recent TMP selection, the 1953 Titanic, will be on TCM tomorrow at noon. And I think one of my selections for tomorrow's TMP is going to be on TCM soon, too.

During 31 Days of Oscar, TCM runs shorts that were Oscar-nominated, something I usually bring up once a year. There are a lot fewer Oscar-nominated shorts, however, so programming those presents some challenges. The Joe McDoakes short So you Want to Be on the Radio is going to be on tonight, just after Gigi (another movie I don't care for by the way). But then it's going to be on again, tomorrow morning around 11:45 AM. Go figure.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Stephen Humphrey Bogart

So on Monday morning I woke up to another item of note in one of my RSS reader's podcast feeds, this time courtesy of Radio New Zealand:

Stephen Humphrey Bogart on his dad and Casablanca

Stephen Humphrey Bogart wasn't even born when his father, Humphrey Bogart, made Casablanca 75 years ago. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Stephen Bogart was only 8 when his father died, but he will always have Casablanca and the stories his mother, Lauren Bacall has shared about the Hollywood legend who died too soon.

Stephen Humphrey Bogart talks to Jesse Mulligan about the 75th anniversary of Casablanca and the legacy of Humphrey Bogart

Radio New Zealand is one of those broadcasters that doesn't have anything close to a transcript of its features, so you'll have to listen to the interview. There's a streaming option at the link above, but if you want to download the interview you can do that as well. The direct download is here; the interview is 21:52 and the MP3 file is a little over 21 MB.

I haven't listened to the interview yet; I'm way behind in my features podcast listening.

Monday, February 12, 2018

We shut up the whole night through

Another movie I watched over the weekend is Good Morning, since it's available on DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

Good Morning reminded me very much of A Canterbury Tale in the sense of it getting a one-sentence plot synopsis that makes it sound like a whimsical little movie, but that that's not really what the movie is about. In this case, the plot synopsis says that two young boys decides they'll give their parents the silent treatment until the parents cave in and buy a TV.

While that is part of the plot, the movie is really about so much more. Or so much less, depending upon your point of view. Just as A Canterbury Tale looked at a time and a place that was about to face major change -- agricultural Britain just before the D-Day invasion -- so Good Morning is a glimpse into a time and a place. Here, it's the Japan on the outskirts of the major cities, where people can commute into Tokyo, but where they live in small one-story houses for the most part.

The main family are the Hayashis, who have the two young boys who are TV-obsessed. Meanwhile, they're taking English lessons from a private teacher who is also getting translation jobs provided by the boys' aunt courtesy of her employer. They're falling in love, although they don't realize it. Mom and another housewife are accused of not paying the equivalent of HOA fees, which leads to gossip that the person they did pay it to is embezzling the money because she just got a new washing machine. (You'd think they'd have heard of receipts.)

Anyhow, when Mom wants the kids to stop going over to their friends' house to watch TV, the boys decide that they're going to rebel by not talking. One could understand them not talking to Mom and Dad, but they also decide not to talk to any other adults, and that causes all sorts of problems, both at school and with gossiping among the local housewives.

And so it goes like this, for a pleasant 90 minutes. Good Morning is firmly in the "slice of life" genre. I wasn't expecting that going in, so at first I was getting a bit disappointed. But once I realized it was just a slice of life, I realized that there's a really entertaining little movie behind it all.

It's just too bad that the Criterion DVDs are so expensive.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

It's because they're stuffing

I recently watched We're Not Dressing off my Carole Lombard Glamour Collection box set. The movie is rather the curiosity.

There's not much plot for the first 15 or 20 minutes. Bing Crosby plays Stephen, a sailor on the crew of the yacht Doris, owned by Doris Worthington (Carole Lombard) and her uncle Hubert (Leon Errol). Stephn sings some songs while playing a concertina. Hubert is getting drunk, while going around the ship with Doris' friend Edith (Ethel Merman), and Doris is watching all the proceedings which also include a dancing, roller-skating bear. Eventually, drunk Hubert goes onto the bridge and the charts get blown overboard, while Hubert's drunken antics screw with the wheel, ultimately leading to the Doris running aground.

Ah, but they're lucky in that there's a tropical island nearby. So the main characters along with two princes pursuing Doris (one of whom is a young Ray Milland) wind up there, with Stephen having to take charge because the idiot rich people don't know how to survive on a desert island. They make do as best they can.

It turns out that the island isn't quite deserted. Oh, normally it has no permanent population, but there are two biologists researching the local flora and fauna. These are played by George Burns and Gracie Allen, so you can imagine how much research they were getting done. Doris meets them and gets them to help her try to turn the tables on Stephen, although the two are really falling in love along the way.

I said at the beginning I found this a curious little movie. That's because it seems uncertain of what it really wants to be. Bing Crosby is the lead here and he gets to do a lot of singing. It's supposed to be a comedy, although Lombard is here not in the full comic flower she'd be in a lot of her other movies. (Looking at her filmography, though, I think it's really that her next movie, Twentieth Century, is the one that made her a screwball star.) Not that there's much drama, it's more that the script seems rather muted regarding her character. Burns and Allen on the one hand, and Errol and Merman on the other, both seem to have been shoehored into the movie to make it almost a revue.

I went into We're Not Dressing expecting a typical movie, with a bit of a screwball plot. That's not what I got out of it, so on first viewing I was underwhelmed. However, if you watch it for its various pieces instead of a coherent whole, you'll probably have a better experience. Burns and Allen in particular are in fine form.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Moulin Rouge (1952)

I've had the 1952 version of Moulin Rouge on my DVR for a long time, but never watched it to do a review because it seems to be out of print on DVD. The movie is on TCM tonight at 8:00 PM, so now's the time do do a review.

José Ferrer plays painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who, at the start of the movie is in the Moulin Rouge nightclub in the Paris of 1890. There, he sketches the dancers and drinks his life away. He lives alone because, as a child, he suffered a serious accident that resulted in his legs not healing properly and leaving him physically stunted. The one love of his life up until that time tells him in flashback that no woman is ever going to want him.

One night on the way home from the club, he comes across a prostitute Marie (Colette Marchand) who is getting harassed by the police because, well, prostitution is not exactly legal. Henri tells the policeman that she is actually with him, if only to keep her from getting arrested. He takes her home and, wouldn't you know it, he falls in love with her. It's a stormy relationship, however, and the two ultimately split although he never forgets her.

Time passes and by 1900, Toulouse-Lautrec has created what would become the iconic poster advertising the Moulin Rouge. The poster made a success of the place. Too much of a success, in fact, as the clientele changed from downmarket to upmarket and what made the place so charming is no longer there. Toulouse-Lautrec has become successful enough to have rich people buying his paintings, but he still drinks his life away.

One morning while heading home in a carriage, he runs across a woman who looks like she's thinking of jumping off a bridge into the Seine and to her death. He stops out and talks to that woman, Myriamme (Suzanne Flon), and finds out that she's only there to throw away a key from a suitor she's rejecting. Not long after, mutual friend Jane (Zsa Zsa Gabor), who had worked at the Moulin Rouge and became a legitimate success, introduces the two even though they've already met. They start a tempestuous relationship, although Myriamme's old boyfriend isn't giving up....

Moulin Rouge is a movie that's physically beautiful to watch, thanks to its sumptuous color and its attempt to make things look almost like a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. But unfortunately, that wasn't enough to outweigh the story which, for me, wasn't all that exciting. Henri was a jerk to the people around him, and I didn't care too much for either of the women. But it's the sort of story that will be appealing to some people, so watch and judge for yourself.

John Gavin, 1931-2018

John Gavin (l.) saves Vera Miles (not in photo) from Anthony Perkins at the end of Psycho (1960)

John Gavin, who became a star at the end of the 1950s and into the early 1960s with movies like Imitation of Life and Psycho, has died aged 86.

Gavin wasn't an actor by training, at least not in the sense that he started out at a young age doing high school drama productions the way many people did. Apparently he served in the navy for several years in the early 50s, was supposed to be technical advisor for a movie but got a screen test instead, and the rest is, as they say, history. Some smaller roles came, then A Time to Love and a Time to Die, a movie that I actually have not seen yet. Supposedly it was a commercial failure, but by the time of release Gavin had already been cast in Imitation of Life (pictured at left).

Gavin continued acting until 1981, when fellow actor Ronald Reagan became president and nominated Gavin to be US Ambassador to Mexico. Gavin's mother was of Mexican descent and Gavin spoke excellent Spanish, making his appointment perfectly understandable. Gavin served until 1986. Gavin is survived by his wife of 43 years, actress Constance Towers.

Friday, February 9, 2018

I should live so long

There's something to be said for living long enough where you no longer have to give a damn what anybody else thinks, leaving you to say the most insane stuff that pops into your mind. Seven-time Oscar nominee Quincy Jones (six for music, once for co-producing The Color Purple) recently gave an interview to Vulture, in which there's some delightfully batty stuff. There's an interesting bit about taking on too much with The Color Purple since he was co-producing in addition to the score, but the best bit, and the one that's getting a lot of news, is about Marlon Brando:

[Marlon] Brando used to go cha-cha dancing with us. He could dance his ass off. He was the most charming motherfucker you ever met. He’d fuck anything. Anything! He’d fuck a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye.

Supposedly, Pryor's widow confirms this. Now, I tend not to care about Hollywood relationships, but the thought of Pryor and Brando getting it on is, well, disturbing, especially if it's late, bloated-era Brando. Not because of the homosexuality; I don't find the rumors about Cary Grant and Randolph Scott disturbing at all. It's more the mental picture of the fat Brando getting it on with somebody coke-addled, or getting it on with anything. Try imagining fat Brando and the older Shelley Winters doing it. [shudders]

Anyhow, read the interview, as they say. And for some bonus elderly insanity, he's the Jerry Lewis interview with EWTN:

Edited because I forgot to name Quincy Jones as the interview subject! (It's been a long week.)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #187: Romance

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week the theme is a very broad one, that of romance. This is an easy one, because goodness knows how many love stories there are out on the screen. As usual, I've picked three older movies, although one of them I hate with a passion:

Sissi (1955). This one tells the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (played by gorgeous Romy Schneider), nicknamed "Sissi" and consort of Franz Josef II (Karlheinz Böhm). The first film in a trilogy, this one tells how Sissi, daughter of a Bavarian nobleman, meets Franz Josef and they immediately fall in love without him knowing her true identity and she not knowing that both families are trying to get him married to her elder sister. The romance is impossibly syrupy, but the color cinematography and the set design combined with extensive location shooting make this a sumptuous movie to watch.

A Little Romance (1979). Diane Lane plays a young American girl stuck in Paris while her stepfather is there on business. She meets a young French boy (Thelonious Bernard) and they immediately fall in love. Then they meet a kindly crook (Laurence Olivier) who tells them the bogus legend that if they kiss under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice at sunset, they'll be in love forever. So the three run away and make their way to Italy, with her parents and the police in hot pursuit.

Random Harvest (1942). God how I hate this movie. Ronald Colman plays the scion of a wealthy family who suffers an injury in World War I that leaves him with amnesia and no idea who he is. At this point he meets music hall singer Greer Garson, and the two live in a cottage to get away from the authorities (not knowing they want to return him to his real family). The two fall in love until he suffers another accident that erases all his post-war memories but brings back all the pre-war memories! Ridiculous. Greer than moves to be near him and be his executive assistant even though he has no idea the two of them were ever in love. Sissi is sappy in a good way; this is sappier than any Christmas movie you'd see on the Hallmark Channel or anything that would show up on the Lifetime Network.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal

The 1960 version of The Time Machine was on TCM earlier today as part of a look at films nominated for Special Effects Oscars in this day of 31 Days of Oscar. I suppose I probably should have mentioned the documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal, since Pal was responsible for the effects in The Time Machine. The documentary is available as one of the many extras on the pricey Blu-ray version of The Puppetoon Movie, while Amazon also mentions a MOD version at a more moderate price.

The documentary is fairly standard and what you might expect if you saw TCM was running one of the documentaries they do on an old star or director. There's some biographical information and a fairly chronological look at the movies for which Pal created the special effects, starting with his advertising days in the Netherlands where he went on first fleeing Nazi Germany, through to the 60s.

One of the nice things about this particular documentary is that since was was first released in 1985, there are a lot of interviews with people who were involved with the feature films, some behind the scenes and a fair number of the stars. A great many of these people are no longer with us, and it's wonderful to have these interviews recorded for posterity.

There was some talk about the behind-the-scenes part of the special effects, although it didn't strike me as nearly as much as, say, the TCM Spotlight a couple of years ago on MGM effects man A. Arnold Gillespie, which has two modern-day effects artists to discuss how the effects in those specific old movies were done. That quibble aside, The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal is an excellent introduction to his work.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

FXM programming update, February 7, 2018

I blogged about Woman's World almost eight years ago now, and have mentioned it passing a couple of times since then. I think TCM finally ran it when they had Fred MacMurray as Star of the Month, was that last year or two years ago now? Anyhow, since it's a Fox movie, it's back on FXM Retro, tomorrow morning at 7:50 AM, with a further airing at 7:15 AM Thursday.

I used Bobbikins last year in one of the Thursday Movie Picks topics, so for those who want to see it and have FXM Retro, you can see it tomorrow at 1:30 PM. It, too, will be on Thursday as well, at noon.

It's been a good age since I've seen From the Terrace, at 11:05 AM. Paul Newman plays a young man who feels the need to prove himself to his father, which he tries to do by making his own way in the business world, only to end up in a loveless marriage of convenience to real-life wife Joanne Woodward. I see this one is on DVD, so perhaps I should record it -- if the weather doesn't screw up satellite reception, and do a full-length post on it. Then again, it will also be on Thursday, at 3:30 AM.

Monday, February 5, 2018


So I watched The World's Greatest Sinner recently after recording it several months back on TCM Underground. It's apparently available on DVD-R from Amazon, but not from the TCM Shop. (I'd guess it has to do with not being distributed by a large distributor, but am not certain.)

I don't know that I can do a real review on this one. Timothy Carey plays Clarence Hilliard, who at the start of the movie gets fired from his job as an insurance salesman. So he decides to start his own branch of Christianity, call himself God, and run for the White House. Or something like that.

The movie has an incoherent plot, horrendous acting, scenes that make no sense put together or even by themselves, and an ending that made no sense. I wouldn't even put it in the "so bad it's good" category, but it's just horrendous. And yet there are people who praise it as a cult classic.

The DVD-R is even more expensive than the Warner Archive movies, too.

TCM Guest Host for February 2018

So I made it a point to tune in to TCM on Saturday afternoon to see if the lady from Filmstruck whose name I can't recall was on yet, or if they had Ben Mankiewicz doing the Saturday afternoon intros. It turned out neither was the case. Once again, they had Dave Karger from the Today show doing the intros. This wouldn't be the first time; I think he was a guest host one month in addition to doing a TCM Spotlight.

I had read a thread on the TCM boards pointing out that Karger was going to be the guest host in parts of prime time: Mondays through Wednesdays in February. I went back to that post, and sure enough it mentioned that Karger was going to be hosting on Saturday afternoons as well. Interestingly, I can't find this anywhere on the TCM regular site. Normally it would be in the "Inside TCM" bit just below the big film clip, but instead that's all about mentioning what's coming up the next couple of days in 31 Days of Oscar.

I have no idea why Ben needed the time off in February, except that there's no Essentials and no Spotlight for somebody else to take even one night of prime time off his hands.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Walking Stick

I see that The Walking Stick is available on DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive collection. So, having watched it off my DVR, now's a good time to do a full-length post on it.

Samantha Eggar plays Deborah, who works as an appraiser at a London auction house. She still lives with her parents (doctor Douglas played by Ferdy Mayne and mom Phyllis Calvert) and sisters since she's not married, and because she has a disability that requires her to use the titular walking stick. Also because of that disability, she tends toward being withdrawn and not social, not wanting to go to the parties that her parents have in their fashionable Hampstead house.

To please her parents, she mingles at one of those parties, which is where she meets Leigh (David Hemings). Leigh is a struggling artist who lives in a grimy part of London, living off an aunt's legacy and patronage from Foil (Emlyn Williams). Leigh is immediately smitten with Deborah, but the feeling is decidedly not mutual. Part of it is probably due to Leigh's being uncomfortably forward, with a greater portion of it being because of Deborah's introversion. Still, Leigh persists until Deborah finally says yes.

Deborah proceeds to start a relationship with Leigh, although there should probably be some red flags. He's way too persistent, he shows himself to be a bit of a jerk when he jokingly suggests stealing the one valuable piece of porcelain that his patron has. Much more worryingly is that he doesn't tell Deborah about his failed marriage. Leigh married an Irish woman, and while the marriage failed, Leigh has been unable to get a divorce since his wife is a devout Catholic. When Deborah finds out, she's rightfully ticked.

She doesn't know what's about to come. One day out of the blue Leigh asks for information about the security situation at the auction house where Deborah works. Once again, she's aghast, and here she should probably drop Leigh like a hot potato. But all she does is try to get Leigh to drop the matter, and sure enough Leigh lets the people who are working with him continue to pressure him, until one day they show up at his residence. They want to rob the auction house, and want Deborah's inside information. And when they can't get a guard on the inside, they wnt her to disable the alarm and open the door for them herself!

The Walking Stick is a movie with a great premise, even if this is the sort of material that a lot of films have handled. Hemings and Eggar both give strong performances, even though I really didn't like Hemings' character at all. However, I also found that the movie didn't quite add up to the sum of its parts. I think that's down to the direction. The movie is extremely slow in getting where it's going. They probably could have cut at least 10, and probably 20, minutes out of the film from before the heist plot comes into play.

Still, I'd say The Walking Stick is definitely a movie that's worth watching the next time it shows up on TV, or from streaming if you can do that. (It's currently available on Amazon streaming.) I'm not certain if I'd pay the Warner Archive prices to have it in my collection, but in a box set, I'd certainly think about it.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Shooting

The Criterion Collection released a DVD containing the 1960s westerns The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind. With that in mind, I watched The Shooting off my DVR to do a full-length post on it here.

Will Hutchins plays Coley, one of four men who were prospecting for gold together somewhere in Arizona. One of the other men, Willet (Warren Oates) returns to find the dim-witted Coley afraid because a third member of their number, Leland, has been murdered. Apparently Leland and the fourth, Will's brother Coin, went to Winslow and got involved in an incident that left somebody dead, so other people (unseen by Coley) came back to the camp looking for revenge. Coin had already fled, so the people shot Leland.

Eventually, Coley and Will hear another gunshot, which might be the folks from Winslow come back to look for Coin. That's not the case, however. It's an unnamed woman (Millie Perkins), who had to shoot her broken-down horse. Except that when Will examines the dead horse, he can't find anything wrong with it. The woman wants to get to Kingsley, and she's willing to pay Will and Coley big bucks to lead her there. Coley, idiot that he is, begins to fall for the woman. So, the three of them set out across the desert.

The woman is obnoxious and keeps shooting her gun for no good reason. Well, actually, there's a good reason. Will figures that the woman must be signaling to somebody. Sure enough, one night another man, hired gun Billy Spear (Jack Nicholson), joins the camp. The woman has been treating Coley badly, but that's nothing compared to the way Billy is about to start treating Coley. The four continue across the desert in pursuit of... well who?

It goes on like this, with the horses slowly being broken down, Billy being increasingly mean to Coley, and Will getting ticked off by Billy's treatment of Coley. Eventually, the trail leads to.... I'm not giving away the ending, other than to say it's not much of an ending.

I had some pretty big problems with The Shooting. It was apparently shot on a limited budget, which would explain the mysterious plot and the paucity of characters. I found the story to be something that, while it has a clear story line, is one that doesn't seem to go anywhere in that everybody is just there instead of having good, clearly-defined motivations for what they do. The characters are in many ways ciphers. And in the ways the characters aren't ciphers, they're annoyingly unlikable. It didn't help that the print I saw looked grainy in spite of its being in the proper aspect ratio as far as I could tell. (The DVR showing was letterboxed which means it was wider than 16:9.)

However, The Shooting is one of those movies that has apparently gained cult status in part due to its back story of never having received a wide theatrical release in the US. So this is definitely one you'll want to watch and judge for yourself.

Friday, February 2, 2018

I missed my tin anniversary!

I had so much other stuff going on the past week that I forgot that Monday was my 10th anniversary of blogging here. I looked it up, and the traditional (at least in the US) anniversary gift for a 10th anniversary is tin or aluminum. Obviously, this is referring to tinware or home goods made of aluminum; not just giving people hunks of metal for their anniversary. And I learned that aluminum, despite being the third most common element in the earth's crust, was rare in the 19th century, thanks to the difficulty at the time of extracting it from bauxite.

Having said that, I can't think of much in old cinema that has to do with aluminum, but there's enough about tin that I could do the equivalent of a Thursday Movie Picks post on it. The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz is probably the most famous, although I can also think of a couple of movies that actually have "Tin" in the title. For those of you who like your overheated Tennessee Williams, there's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof If you like non-English literature, Günter Grass' novel The Tin Drum was turned into a movie in the late 1970s.

Tin Cup is a famous sports movie about golf from about 20 years ago now. If you prefer older movies, you could do worse than to catch The Tin Star. I did not know it, but apparently there was at least one live-action movie based on the Tintin comic books, released in France in the mid-1960s. And does Rin Tin Tin count?

At some point a generation or two back, industry groups got together and came up with a new set of anniversary gifts which seem solely designed to get people to buy gems and jewelry. In this set, the 10th anniversary gift is diamond jewelry. I have no need of any diamond jewelry, thank you very much.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #146: Story Within a Story

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 "Story Within a Story", and after some thought, I suddenly had a flash of inspiration that enabled me to come up with three movies:

Titanic (1953). Barbara Stanwyck plays American Julia Sturges, who's trapped in a loveless marriage in the UK to Richard (Clifton Webb). So she packs up and takes her two children with her to the States. Richard follows to try to reconcile the marriage about transatlantic liner RMS Titanic. Everybody's plans get screwed up, however, when the ship impudently runs into an iceberg.

The Cassandra Crossing (1976). Ava Gardner is having an affair with boy toy Martin Sheen on a train across Europe; OJ Simpson suspects Sheen of dealing heroin. However, a terrorist who may be carrying pneumonic plague has boarded the train, and public health official Ingrid Thulin and military liaison Burt Lancaster shunt the train to Poland where it will collapse a bridge, killing everybody and solving Lancaster's problem. At least, that's what he hopes. The passengers aren't so keen on being killed like that.

The Swarm (1978). Small town mayor Fred MacMurray has decided to pursue a romance with schoolteacher Olivia de Havilland. However, he has a romantic rival in Ben Johnson. Plans for all three of them are bollixed by an invasion of African killer bees that threatens to kill all of Texas. Michael Caine, Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, and a bunch of others lead the science and military types trying to defeat the bees.