Saturday, December 1, 2012

Noir Watch: The Unsuspected (1947)

A few points:

1.  Everyone is familiar with Claude Rains from some of his bigger pictures like Casablanca, but he was truly the Michael Caine/ Gene Hackman of his time.  He was a terrifically talented performer who fit neatly into film after film, and despite the fact he is obviously and indelibly Claude Rains, he just works in every role, no matter how good or bad the film.  

2.  A special thanks to Jenifer out in San Fran for making sure I paid attention to Audrey Totter.  I still haven't seen that many of Totter's film, but she's a terrific talent.  

The Unsuspected (1947) played a few nights ago on TCM and I managed to record it.  It's an interesting film, and I don't think host Robert Osbourne was wrong to make comparisons to Laura prior to the film starting.  It may borrow an idea or three from the film, but director Michael Curtiz (of Mildred Pierce, Casablanca and many, many other films) instills the film with his own vision and more than enough suspects and twists to keep you going for the duration.  It may not be one of his better known efforts, but it is extremely well directed, even as it hinges on "new technology" to tell its stories - something that often doesn't age well with movies.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Gloria Grahame

Actress Gloria Grahame would have been 89 today.  Unfortunately, Grahame passed in the early 1980's, well before her time.

We've profiled Ms. Grahame here before, and it's likely she'll get mentioned here again in the future.

Ms. Grahame is a bright point in the constellation of lady-actors from a certain era whose work I go out of my way to find.  It's hard not to love the work she does in movies like Crossfire and The Big Heat.

A little digging will turn up a lot of evidence that Ms. Grahame led a deeply complicated life, but its hard not to love what she did on the screen.

Here's to Ms. Grahame.

Signal Watch Watches: Killer School Girls From Outer Space (2011)

So, life is funny how it surprised you sometimes.

Not that long ago I was sitting in my office at work making digital libraries happen when a guy from my building who I talk to now and again, mostly "howdy" and "hello" as we pass, asked me about some posters from Mondo I have hanging up in my office.

"You like sci-fi?"
"Yeah!  It's kind of my thing.  Not so much the modern stuff, but I kind of dig mid-century stuff and maybe up to the 80's the best."
And we parted ways.
A few days later Bill appeared in my doorway with a DVD in his hand.
"A while back, my son and I made this movie."
My stomach dropped.  I like a good Birdemic trainwreck, but I like it from a casual distance.  I do not like to have to nod and smile and say "that was super!" when it was not super at all.  Then I looked down at the cover.

" that Ron Jeremy?"
Bill nodded.  "Yeah, we hired him for a day.  All green screen.  He was really nice."
"This is...  like, everything awesome about movies."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Noir Watch: Hotel Noir (2012)

The story on this movie is that it's a low-budget affair and a passion project that's made it's way to In-Demand on cable before theaters or BluRay.  The movie sports some pretty big names from Danny DeVito to Robert Forster to Carla Gugino and the perhaps too always-game Rosario Dawson.

The film is a tribute to various offshoots of the noir genre, recognizing the occasionally laconic pacing and low-rent nature of many of the stories in these films, of low-level cops and grifters making bad decisions for sex and money or some combination of the pair.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Watch: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

editor's note:  This review appears in a different format at the Texas Public Radio website.  We were provided a review copy of Kino Lorber's BluRay release of the film, for which we are tremendously grateful.  

While the Lifetime and Hallmark networks will duke it out for weeks ahead of Christmas, airing competing schmaltzy movies in which divorcees find love under the mistletoe, there has long been a tradition of quickly and cheaply produced Christmas movies intended for the kiddies. These movies usually assume that no adult will even attempt to watch the flick, and so all bets are off when it comes to bothering with appealing to anyone with more than two digits in their age.

To better understand the pleasantly cynical take on making some green during your White Christmas, it is not hard to imagine an entrepreneur sitting on his cot, looking up at the ceiling and trying to make two things kids like go together into one entirely new package. In our case, the space race is on, and, heck, who doesn’t like Santa?


trying to fix RSS.

This is what I looked like in second grade

I was a monster of a kid.  Holy smokes.

Signal Shame Watch: Liz & Dick (2012)

Well, that was most certainly a movie with Lindsay Lohan in various Liz Taylor Halloween get-ups.

I wasn't planning to watch Liz & Dick (2012), the much hyped Lindsay Lohan-as-Liz Taylor biopic, but Twitter was having enough of a field day under the #lizanddick hashtag that I had to check in and see what was what.  And a trainwreck it was, indeed.

I don't actually know anything about the history of Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, and I've only seen a rare few of each of their movies.  Aside from finding each to be fine actors and finding Liz Taylor in her prime quite fetching, I don't know that I've spent as long as the duration of this movie thinking about Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend Round-Up 2012

Well, so that was the long weekend for Thanksgiving.

that was a really, really good white.  No idea what it was.
The Thanksgiving Holiday is over, and we head into the Christmas season.

Before we bid adios to Turkey Day, here's some quick views...

Signal Watch wishes Noel Neill a Very Happy Birthday!

Born November 25th, 1920, Noel Neill played Lois Lane in the original Superman movie serials with Kirky Alyn, and then in all but the first season of the 1950's TV series, The Adventures of Superman alongside George Reeves and Jack Larson.  She went on to appear as Lois' mother on the train in Superman: The Movie and appeared briefly as Gertrude Vanderworth in Superman Returns.

She is one of our favorite performers in any Superman media, and we want to extend a big birthday howdy to our Lois of choice.