Showing posts with label 1940's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1940's. Show all posts

Friday, December 24, 2021

Holiday Noir Watch: "Lady in the Lake" (1947)




Watched:  12/21/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Robert Montgomery

Well, this is officially my own personal Christmas movie tradition now, I guess.


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Holiday Watch: "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944)




Watched:  12/21/2021
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Vincente Minnelli

My allergies were destroying me, so we agreed to just put on something light and simple.  I didn't realize Jamie had never seen this one, so maybe it was a good choice?  She never said much about what she thought about it.

Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) is only barely a Christmas film.  It follows about a year with a family in St. Louis over 1903-04, in a world just around the corner from that which inspired Walt Disney's Main Street USA in the Disney Parks.  That's not an exaggeration - Disney did base Main Street on the small town of Marceline, Missouri, where he would have lived about 4 years after the events of the film as a young child (Disney born 1901).

The film boasts a name cast, headlined by Judy Garland, and as a product of wartime filmmaking, the cast skews female-centric and features non-draft eligible gentlemen in support roles.  Mary Astor seems cast too-young as the patient matriarch, paired with Leon Ames as the father.  Lucille Bremer appears in her first (of like 10) role, Margaret O'Brien as arguably the #2 lead in the film at 7 years old, Harry Davenport as "Grandpa".  Joan Caroll, who plays Patsy in Bells of St. Mary's is another sister.  

Monday, December 20, 2021

Christmas Classic Watch: White Christmas (1954)

something about this picture says "whoops, I joined a cult"



Watched:  12/19/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  unknown
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Curtiz

Man, I've seen this so many times.  

Next time you watch, just bask in the glory that was Edith Head's genius for gowns and costuming.  



Saturday, December 18, 2021

Christmas Watch: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)




Watched:  12/18/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  ha ha ha
Decade:  1940's
Director:  George Seaton

Look, we watch this every year.  I'm not writing it up.  And this site is very clear on its pro-Maureen O'Hara stance.



Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Christmas Watch: It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)




Watched:  12/13/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Roy Del Ruth

The handling of media in regards to its availability in any format is such a weird animal.  As is the impact of media long after the media originally played and to whom.

It's a Wonderful Life famously did mediocre box office (released *after* Christmas in January for some reason).  Contemporary critics shrugged it off as sappy (it is, but...), and it fell into public domain access to become a holiday staple as the movie was cheap to show.  Repeated viewings and a new appreciation of the film eventually found the film its audience.  And, of course, now It's a Wonderful Life is *the* American holiday media.  Heck, I have a poster for it in my stairwell I see several times per day.

I only recently heard of It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947), which I chalked up to the fact it didn't star anyone I really knew (except Alan Hale Jr. in a supporting part).  But it seems the movie just basically disappeared for 20 years, from 1990-2010.  For me, personally, those were kind of some big years there as I was doing legwork looking for new old films.  Why did it disappear?  I have literally no idea.  But I can tell you, unless there's a community of film nerds clamoring for a film, the studios may not care.  The catalog may just be sitting there ready for exploitation, but most of the audience for movies would rather see something brand new but terrible than black and white, but excellent.  

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Sorta Holiday Watch: The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)



Watched:  12/11/2021
Format:  VOD from TCM
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Leo McCarey

I don't watch The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) every year - and it's been a while - but when I do, I'm weirdly weepy through the whole thing.  And I do not know why.  Ingrid Bergman smiling in soft lighting in close-up is certainly part of it.  But... I'm not Catholic.  I've only spoken to like one or two nuns in my life.  

The message of the film is not as on the nose as It's a Wonderful Life or a Pixar film where you more or less get why you're having the feels.  But who can argue with the kind of belief in people's better natures, that kindness is its own reward and the value of good cheer that the movie puts forward?  And, for those of you so inclined, it's a look at faith and service that's remarkable.

The Bells of St. Mary's is considered a Christmas movie, and it... is not.  It has exactly one sequence of a movie that takes place over an academic year that takes place anywhere around Christmas.  That scene is a banger, but it barely even advances the plot.  The original release date - Dec. 6th, 1945 - fell in the holiday season (it's on the marquee at the Bedford Falls cinema as George Bailey runs down Main Street), and paired with the song becoming not exactly a staple, but a bit of a standard, of holiday music - it's locked in.  

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Watch Party Christmas Watch: The Bishop's Wife (1947)




Watched:  12/3/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Henry Koster

The Bishop's Wife (1947) is one of those movies that I've known existed since the 1990's, but I never got around to seeing.  I'd watched clips here and there, and I knew the basic plot outline, but just wasn't in a rush to see it.  And, I did want to see the 1990's version, but I try to see the original before I see a remake 2 out of 3 times.  

Anyhoo... I was originally going to program Bob Clark's Black Christmas for my Christmas Surprise package movie, but I just wasn't up for it on Friday, and Loretta Young is Loretta Young (which is good for *me* as a viewer, anyway), and who doesn't like Cary Grant?  Or David Niven, for that matter? I'm a fan of all three, plus Christmas, plus a sort of fable-ish fairy tale seemed like the right thing to do.

That said, the movie was 80% exactly what I figured it might be - a comedy so light it's like watching dandelion bristles float away and making points like (as Jenifer said) "be nice" and "don't be a jerk", which... you know, *fair enough* I say as 2021 draws to a close.  It's not like a whole lot of people can't learn basic lessons in not being horrible, selfish, and cruel.  

The basic story is that a local and fairly newly minted Bishop (I'm assuming Episcopalian) has become consumed by the need to build a new Cathedral and other duties of his place.  All of which are of a noble mindset, but have created the problem of both making him compromise in the name of the greater good in ways that make him unhappy, and that he is so focused on his work issues, he's both ignoring his wife and what once made them unhappy.  Dude is in crisis, and so is Loretta Young.

Cary Grant plays an angel named Dudley who arrives on scene to assist - which mostly seems to consist of taking Loretta Young off David Niven's hands.  Yeah, it would be super weird, but David Niven *believes* Dudley when he says he's an angel, so why not entrust him with his wife?  This is not Zeus or Pan we're talking about here.  Except - maybe Dudley wants to smash?

Anyway - it's a sweet movie, has two of the kids from It's a Wonderful Life (both Zuzu and young George Bailey), Elsa Lanchester as a domestic who just kinda *gets* Dudley, Gladys Cooper as a wealthy dowager, and a handful of "that guy!" supporting players.  Still, the funniest joke in the film is some slapsticky physical comedy with a chair and David Niven, so maybe it's just too gentle for it's own good.  Well, that and a never-ending bottle of liquor.  

I'm not mad I saw it, it was all right and Christmassy - and I like the fact it works in so many story arcs, but it just wasn't my cup of tea, necessarily.  

Monday, November 29, 2021

Light Noir Watch: The Big Steal (1949)




Watched:  11/29/2021
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Don Siegel

A tight little film from RKO, I thought maybe I'd seen The Big Steal (1949) when I saw it listed just based on the cast.  William Bendix, Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum is plenty to get me to take a look.  And, yes, given the non-descriptive names of many-a-film noir, I have to check to see what the movie is and if the summary of plot rings any bells.  And even then, I'm often 5 to 10 minutes into a movie and realize "say... I've seen this before".    

But... no.  I hadn't seen the movie.

It's a lot of plot, a minimum of character, and swings between comedy, road trip movie and crime movie surprisingly deftly.  Mitchum plays a guy on the run from the US Army, looking for Jane Greer's fiancé (Patric Knowles), Fiske.  The fiancé swears he's on the up and up to Greer when she finds him in a Mexican hotel minus the $2000 he took when he split without a word.  But he swears he'll have it.  That very day, in fact.

And then he bounces as Greer takes a shower.  

Mitchum and Greer team-up and go after him, and do that "they irritate each other" to "romance is blossoming" thing.  Bendix pursues semi-ruthlessly.  But the Mexican setting and characters are marginally more than a back-drop in this film.  Ramon Navarro as the Inspector General and Don Alvarado as Lt. Ruiz are watching our Americans flail around and set their own plan in motion that's 2 steps ahead of our leads.  Greer speaks Spanish and has an understanding of her surroundings that Mitchum lacks - and is way too distracted to learn more.  But you do get an idea that this movie is trying harder than some others that treat Mexico as one big resort via Greer and our police officers and a few other players (the road crew boss is excellent).

Anyway - it's Mitchum playing Mitchum, Bendix playing Bendix and Jane Greer looking lovely and having some excellent beats, both comedic and otherwise.  This film is two years after Out of the Past, which also teamed Greer and Mitchum, and my guess is they must have liked working together.  But it's so... different.  But, still, within their personas all three leads could really stretch and do whatever was needed.  The much lighter tone here - I mean, the movie ends on a punchline callback - allows Greer to do some very different work than the few other films of this era where I've seen her.  And we know Mitchum and Bendix can do comedy, and it all holds.  The movie doesn't feel tonally off as it leaps around, it just goes with the adventure of the high-stakes road trip.

I dug it.  Not going to set the world on fire, but it was enjoyable.  And, hey, we got to see Jane Greer drive like a maniac.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Joan Watch: Daisy Kenyon (1947)




Watched:  11/23/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Otto Preminger

I was looking for a new-to-me noir to watch for Noirvember and on some list of "best noir" saw Daisy Kenyon (1947), and that it starred Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews, and Henry Fonda.  All have some noir bona fides as actors, and Otto Preminger never lets me down, so I put the movie on.

Friends, Daisy Kenyon is not film noir.  It's melodrama.  And that's fine, but half-way through the movie I realized no one was going to shoot anyone, no one was going to make a decision that would end in murder, and realized "someone making that noir list had no idea what they were talking about".  It happens.  

Movies can reveal quite a bit about the times in which they were released.  This is a post-WWII story and the aftermath of the war isn't the plot, but it's key.   There are some surprisingly forward thinking elements that I wanted to see if they'd get mentioned in the NYT review of the time, but... not really?  (I did find it funny how the reviewer treats the well-established leads as "you know what they do, and here they are doing it, just as reviewers would today).  

Monday, November 22, 2021

Noir Watch: Johnny O'Clock (1947)




Watched:  11/22/2021
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Robert Rossen

Well, Johnny O'Clock (1947) is a ridiculous name for a movie, and a character.  But here we are.  It's maybe not a shock its hard to take seriously when I saw Johnny Dangerously years before I'd see a gangster or noir film the 1980's comedy was looking to emulate.  But Johnny O'Clock is not a comedy - it's a straight film, but packed with plot, schemers and some very deeply rat-a-tat hard boiled dialog.  

It's not a great movie, and it's entirely wrapped up in its own plot so much, it kind of forgets to do much with characters after an initial impression, but...  I think Muller's take on it intersects with how I felt.  This movie felt like someone had read a lot of snappy dialog in novels that didn't quite make it to the movies and wanted that to happen.  

Everyone has an agenda, and everyone is willing to play for keeps - and by the time we show up as an audience, a lot of balls are already in motion.  We're just watching the Rube Goldberg machinations go through their motions.  So just buckle up and watch.

I've been a Dick Powell fan since seeing Murder, My Sweet a long time ago, and sealed the deal with Cry Danger.  I am not against his song-and-dance-man persona that predates his move into noir, but I prefer him as the sardonic voice centering a crime film.  And, of course, the film has Lee J Cobb as a cop on a case, super-actor Thomas Gomez and noir-favorite Evelyn Keyes.  The movie also includes a very early appearance by Jeff Chandler.

I.. am still not sure why a key character is murdered early on in the movie, the flashpoint for everything else in the movie.  They sort of suggest "oh, she might have known something so we bumped her off", but...  why would they think that?

ANYWAY.  Maybe not the first noir I'd suggest someone rush out to see, but it still played well.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Noir-vember Watch Party Watch: Out of the Past (1947)




Watched:  11/19/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown guess is:  4th
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Jacques Tourneur

Look, adding rum plus talking to people in chat over a movie is probably *not* the ideal way to watch this twisty, turny noir classic.  It did point out that Out of the Past (1947) may have some good performances, but it's harder to keep up with because there's so much plot versus character stuff in the movie (which is easier to follow when you're not a rum or two in, and you're cracking wise in the comments). 

Still, I love Out of the Past.  Poor old doomed Robert Mitchum falling for the absolute worst possible girl - and you get it!  She seems great!  Ain't nothing wrong with Jane Greer minus the fact she seems to get off and torturing people and seeing pain inflicted.  Throw in Kirk Douglas, and that's a movie with a lot of strong chin action.  

Plus:  not enough Rhonda Fleming, Virginia Huston, Steve Brodie, and a handful of other RKO players you'll know from around RKO.

I invite you to check the movie out yourself.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Noir Watch: Detour (1945)




Watched:  11/16/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Edgar G. Ulmer

Detour (1945) is a bitter, furious bit of pulp noir with no budget, no bankable stars, cardboard sets and a half-assed set-up, and it is absolutely impossible to stop watching once you start.  And, that's at least 85% Ann Savage, who doesn't even show up til the 1/3rd mark.  

It had been a while since I'd watched Detour, but Jenifer selected it for a Tuesday watch party, and I was delighted she did.  I have no idea what spawned this movie or even how it got made.  It doesn't feel like a war-time picture, but it does suggest what would come in the months and years following the war.  It's just lacking the gloss the studios would put on something like this - hard-scrabble talent working off a half-finished script and utterly buyable as drifters and wastrels of pre-War America.  

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Noir-Vember to Remember Watch Party: The Big Sleep (1946)




Watched:  11/12/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Howard Hawks

This is literally one of the most written about books and movies of the last century.  Go out there and get nuts reading up on it elsewhere.

Like with the Universal Horror films, I've just been delighted to share these films with the usual gang, some of who've seen these films, some who haven't.  I try not to be a pain interjecting factoids and whatnot, tag-teaming with Jenifer.  It's definitely different watching *good* movies versus campy movies, but everyone's been terrific. 


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Noir-Vember Party Watch: Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)




Watched:  11/09/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party (Jenifer pick)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Anatole Litvak

I had never seen this film, but Jenifer chose it for a Noirvember Watch Party, and it had Stanwyck, so I wasn't going to dodge.  

Based on what seems to have been a very popular radio play, Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) is deep into noir-thriller territory, and achieves its goals totally differently, but just as effectively (or more so) as Beware, My Lovely or Sudden Fear

Stanwyck plays an invalid rich girl who hears a conversation over crossed wires (this used to actually happen, kids.  I remember getting pulled into other people's phone calls by accident as late as high school in the 1990's) wherein the two participants are planning a murder or an unsuspecting woman.  Stanwyck is bed-bound, and her husband hasn't come home, so it's through a series of phone calls and flashbacks that we put together her background and what's going on with her husband and her.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Musical Revue Watch: Time Out For Rhythm (1941)




Watched:  11/06/2021
Format:  TCM 
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Sidney Salkow

My feeling is that they didn't make movies like this much post WWII.  It's a movie, yeah, but it's a musical/ vaudeville/ what-have-you revue.  It's got a basic framework, and that framework is not that of a musical where songs and bits are part of the story.  Here - the story stops as characters perform for one another.

The basic premise is that a top Broadway performer drops her manager, so her manager teams up with Rudy Vallee and they become successful agents and promoters.  But then the original manager hears his former talent is getting divorced and available to sing/ play snuggle-bunnies, and he decides to throw everything out the window to work with her.  Meanwhile, Vallee discovers a still teen-aged Ann Miller as her maid, basically being Ann Miller, and decides to run with it.

We also get a fairly early appearance from a Shemp-less Three Stooges, Joan Merrill, Brenda & Cobina, Rosemary Lane of the Lane Sisters, and more.  

Basically, it's as easy to watch as it is to drink a glass of Coke.  You may not be nuts about it, but you'll suddenly realize you're at the end of it and shrug.  It's cute and funny-ish, and only has a few problematic bits left over from days of yore.  

Honestly, I watched it like 24 hours ago and had already forgotten about it, so.  I mean, Ann Miller was still very young and just signed to Columbia, so they barely let her speak.  As an Ann Miller movies I'd not previously seen, I'm glad I can check it off, but it's more of an interesting artifact than anything I'd need to own in 4K.

Noir-Vember Watch: Double Indemnity (1944)





Watched:  11/05/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Billy Wilder

We're doing a short series of Amazon Watch Parties of the ultra-famous noir films you should probably see at some point in your life.  Just three for Noir-vember.  That also means these movies have been discussed endlessly, so I'm not gonna do it.



Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Absolute Last Hallow-Scream Watch: The Leopard Man (1943)




Watched:  10/30/2021
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Jacques Tourneur


A very short film that manages to pack in what seems the plot and thrills of something much longer, The Leopard Man (1943) just uses a title that makes it sound like a sequel to The Cat People but delivers and entirely different thrill (or maybe not?).  

I *loved* this movie.  Great characters.  Misdirection.  A few scenes with genuine terror.  Beautifully shot and imagined.  This is the Val Lewton/ Jacques Tourneau you hear about in classic film circles.  For me - an unexpected ending that's terrifically framed.  I have no notes!

My understanding is that this is not just based on a Cornell Woolrich novel, but really sticks to the source material, even what's seen in specific characters' POVs.  I need to read some Woolrich.

I also was surprised to hear discussion of genocide of indigenous people by colonizing forces even mentioned, let alone treated as a tragedy. 

SPOILERS

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Noir Horror Watch: Cat People (1942)




Watched:  10/31/2021
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  Third?
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Jacques Tourneau

I have watched this movie at least 1.75 times before, and found it odd and boring.  But I think, honestly, I must have picked up my phone or computer or something and quit watching.  Because this time...  holy cats (so to speak), I *finally* got what this movie was all about.

Honestly, I'd read so much about how great this movie was - I'd given it a go - but thought it was overhyped.  And frankly didn't know what people were talking about.  It literally almost felt like I had seen a different cut or something that missed all the good stuff when I'd previously seen this movie - because once you get to the petshop sequence, things really kick into gear here.

Anyway - THAT is the best possible case for a rewatch!  Trust in Eddie Muller if he's going to do a Halloween episode of Noir Alley!

Yes, the movie is the one where a cute woman is picked up by a typically dunder-headed American-male of the 1940's-1950's who considers all women the same, interchangeable wife-bots - where you just pick the aesthetic you like - and finds out:  whoops.  I married either a crazy person or a were-panther.  Either way:  there's a reason you may want to give pre-marital coitus a try before finding out she thinks doing so will lead to her transformation to a monstrosity.  And not in a fun way.

It is true, intentionally or otherwise, our lead is a handsome moron (I think intentionally), and the weight of what's going on is put on the shoulders of his new bride slowly going mad, were-panther or not, as she grapples with being unable to love.  

It's A LOT, and it is the most noiry-noir looking of movies.  That Tourneau is not afraid of a good shadow and what happens in those shadows.  

Anyhoo...  highly recommended.  

Can't believe they got away with this under the production code.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Hallow-Scream Watch Party: The Wolf Man (1941)




Watched:  10/22/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  George Waggner

Well, I've seen this one a lot, and we talked about it last year on the podcast.  




What I noticed this time was that Maleva, the gypsy woman, has a speech of her own as she bids farewell to first Bela, and then Larry after they've been killed and freed from the curse.  

The way you walked was thorny, through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end.
It's funny - I've seen this movie a lot, and I've listened to a bit about it on commentary tracks and read about it online, and I don't recall anyone calling this out.  Maybe they did.  Everyone gets hung up on the usual rhyme,* but folks tend not to focus on Maleva's farewell, bridging worlds for the cursed and absolving them, I suppose.

One wonders exactly how many werewolves she's had to deal with.

Here's last year's podcast.




*A few times in the film, we hear:  

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

PODCAST: "Son of Frankenstein" (1939) and "Son of Dracula" (1943) - Halloween 2021 - Horror Sequels w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  09/06/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  a whole lot
Decade:  1930's and 1940's
Director:  Rowland V. Lee and Robert Siodmak (I KNOW)



We check in on the boys and see what the kids are up to! One back in the old family villa and the other heading to Louisiana for some jambalaya, we assume. Two franchises rise yet again, stitched together from ideas new and old as we look at the third in the series for each, and sink their teeth into familiar tropes as well as all new stories and characters!




Music:
Son of Dracula Theme - Hans J. Salter Orchestra
Son of Frankenstein Theme - Frank Skinner


Halloween 2021