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

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ida Watch: The Man I Love (1947)




Watched:  06/13/2022
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Raoul Walsh

Cubs were in weather delay, so I put on The Man I Love (1947) so that I might continue on my Ida journey.  

Ida Lupino had previously starred in High Sierra for director Raoul Walsh, and he must have known he had about four choices in Hollywood to pull off the part of Petey Brown (my new favorite character name in anything, ever), and by 1947, Crawford and Stanwyck were not going to sell the age Petey needed to be in relation to all the other members of her family.  

There's a lot of reasons to like this movie, but not least because Ida Lupino is in fabulous gowns and other outfits.  She's... well cared for on this movie in some ways (she also apparently suffered from legit exhaustion on the movie, which makes me think in other ways, she was run ragged), with gorgeous lighting, hair and make-up in every scene.  

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Noir Watch: My Name is Julia Ross (1945)




Watched:  06/04/2022
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Joseph H. Lewis

I'd had this one burning a hole in my DVR and it seemed like a good way to kill the 90 minutes before I planned to go to bed.  It was actually a B movie in the traditional sense - only 65 minutes or something - so it really fit the bill.   

The plot is whackadoodle and I loved the set up.  Rich-ish jerks go about recruiting a young woman into a job as a secretary, then abscond with her and gaslight her, telling her "no, you're not Julia Ross.  You're Mrs. Hughes" (ie: the wife of the guy she thought was her employer) "and you're crazy.  Sometimes you get these kooky thoughts you're someone else."

Place spunky woman in gothic mansion on a seaside cliff, add paranoia, gaslighting and dickery, and you have a groovy movie.  And, man, is it a cast of FACES.  George Macready, May Whitty, Anita Sharp-Bolster, and even Joy Harington.  Our star is Nina Foch, with whom I'm not terribly well acquainted, but she's terrific.  

Anyway - I'm kinda shocked of the two movies I watched last night, this was the one that had me the most jazzed.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Joan Watch: Flamingo Road (1949)




Watched:  05/27/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  2nd?  3rd?
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Michael Curtiz

I remembered really liking this movie, but not many plot details.  What I really recall was that this was that age of post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford when she was having a second or third wind in Hollywood and back at the center of movies.  

This one would be a fabulous bit of film for a good old-fashioned "gender in cinema" student paper, with a tough-as-nails female lead who still has to navigate the mid-20th Century gender and sexual politics and the less-than-ideal male figures around her.  Not to mention the presentation of other women in the film who do not have the benefit of being Joan Crawford.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Ida Watch: Out of the Fog (1941)




Watched:  05/24/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Decade:   1940's
Director:  Anatole Litvak

Well, Jamie likes Ida Lupino, so it's never a huge fight when I declare "I'm gonna watch an Ida Lupino movie" which does, in fact, happen around here.  And right now Criterion Channel had a handful of options, most of which I've seen but a few I hadn't.  Tonight's choice was Out of the Fog from 1941.  

The film feels distinctly pre-war in content, a stage-like acting style derived from 30's-era norms plus - I assume - a desire to replicate the energy and pacing of source material from several of the players.  It's a tight 85 minutes of melodrama that feels like a mix of the socially conscious theater of the 1940's and some light crime.  

It also stars John Garfield (who is typically John Garfield excellent), Thomas Mitchell, Eddie Albert and a handful of other familiar faces and just faces.  

Garfield and Lupino out on the town

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Western Noir Watch: Lust for Gold (1949)




Watched:  05/02/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  S. Sylvan Simon and George Marshall


Well, Criterion Channel is currently highlighting a collection of films starring Ida Lupino, and that's good news for me, anyway.  Always on the hunt for more Lupino, I wanted to check out something I hadn't seen, and we mostly randomly landed on Lust for Gold (1949), what appeared to be a Western, but which really turned out to be Western Noir, which is absolutely a thing.

This is a supremely weird movie, and they needed to make one movie or the other movie in their movie, but instead they give you two partial movies, and I cannot begin to conceive of the "why".  A full 2/3rds of the film is flashback to events from the 1880's, and the rest takes place, which a much-less-talented team of actors, in the present day of 1949.  And I'm not sure the whole section in 1949 needs to exist at all, and I'm not sure that the events of 1880 shouldn't have been mentioned in about three sentences in a very different version of how the 1949 stuff spins out.

The end result is that you don't get any Ida Lupino until something like 35 minutes into a 90 minute movie, and... come on.  What are we even doing here?

Monday, April 18, 2022

Holiday Watch: Easter Parade (1948)




Watched:  04/17/2022
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Second?
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Charles Waters

I put this on at the start as we were cooking, and then realized I was watching the end.

This movie isn't my favorite.  But it does have Ann Miller in some parts of it.  And that's not all bad.








Friday, March 11, 2022

Western Watch: My Darling Clementine (1946)




Watched:  03/09/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Ford

Yet another deeply factually inaccurate take on the events including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Clantons at the OK Corral, but a solid one that throws out all attempts to stay true to the story and instead does its own myth-making.  That's alright.  We have how many years of TV and movies that have used Earp and Holliday as fictional characters with fictional motivations to the point where my usual rules about biopics can't possibly apply.  

I was spurred to check this one out based on a single photo of Victor Mature in a cowboy hat, a still from this movie, and I'm a bit of a Victor Mature fan, and I had never seen him in a western.  When I checked to see what the story was with My Darling Clementine (1946), it was directed by Ford and co-starred Henry Fonda as Earp and Linda Darnell as "Chihuahua", a Mexican songstress.  And, look, I'm only human.  I'll watch a Linda Darnell movie for all the wrong reasons.  The titular Clementine is played by Cathy Downs, who would go on to sci-fi fame in some B pictures like The Amazing Colossal Man, but who also performed in some noir pictures around the 1940's and 50's.  

he's so cool


The movie fictionalizes a full background as a surgeon for "Doc" Holliday (he was a dentist), and makes up a love triangle between himself and Chihuahua, his local saloon lady, and Clementine - a nurse he once loved when he was still practicing.  While the Clantons are trying to remain outlaw lords of Tombstone, they make the mistake of killing Wyatt Earp's (Fonda's) brother, which leads to Earp becoming Marshall of Tombstone - already famed for his work in Dodge City and Deadwood.  Earp falls hard for the virtuous Clementine, and she has some conflicted feelings (and Doc seems kinda screwed up anyway, plus, you know, he's dating Linda Darnell).  

I can genuinely recommend the movie.  I think it's got a lot going for it, and Ford gets great stuff out of his four leads.  The real life story will continue to exist, but I like the arc for Mature's Holliday, and I think he nails it.   But you've also got Ford's Monument valley backdrops, beautifully shot, thoughtful execution of scene after scene, and a kind of humanity to the characters that grounds everything.


I mean...  Linda Darnell




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 fiancĂ© (Patric Knowles), Fiske.  The fiancĂ© 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.