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

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Noir Watch: This Gun For Hire (1942)




Watched:  11/18/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Frank Tuttle

It's probably the only Noir-vember watch party screening we were going to work in this year, but I'm glad we did this one for Veronica Lake on the week of her 100th birthday.  

Anyway, I'm positive we've written this one up before.  Go watch it.  It's ground zero for a lot of the "assassin who seems that way because he's detached from humanity" stuff you see in everything from Le Samurai to any number of American films where an assassin comes to grips with the fact they might be human.

Curiously, not many more movies where they decide "Gorton's Fisherman" is a hot look for a lady.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Noir Watch: Tension (1949)




Watched:  11/15/2022
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  4th?
Director:  John Berry

I've already seen this and written it up a few times, including in 2021.  

So here's several pictures of Audrey Totter in the film.









Thursday, November 10, 2022

Noir Watch: Call Northside 777 (1948)




Watched:  11/08/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  Henry Hathaway

Criterion Channel is currently featuring a load of films they're calling "Film Noir" from 20th Century Fox, and I wanted to finally give Call Northside 777 a whirl.  

As much as I enjoy a film noir from a poverty row studio, Tuesday we made the conscious decision to see something a bit more prestige, and which had been on my punchlist for a while - a noir that starred Jimmy Stewart, who I usually associate with noirish-thrillers later in his career when he shows up in Vertigo, etc... under Hitch.  

The thing, though, is that despite the fact that I've seen Call Northside 777 (1948) referred to as film noir for two decades, much like The Damned Don't Cry, I don't think this movie actually qualifies as film noir.   It certainly *looks* like noir.  Cinematographer Joseph MacDonald, who also shot one of the noir-iest noirs - Pickup on South Street - gives John Alton and James Wong Howe a run for their money (My Darling Clementine similarly has some noir-ish stuff for a western).  But...  there's no femme or homme fatale.  There's no one in over their head because they followed an ill-advised path/ chased a skirt.  There's no one who has crossed paths with the wrong person and is now in an existential crisis.  

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Halloween Watch Party Watch: House of Dracula (1945)



Watched:  10/28/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Erle C. Kenton

I'd seen this before and couldn't really remember it.  But when I saw "Hunchback" on the poster, I was like "oh, yeah.  This one."  

Dracula (John Carradine) goes to a Dr. Edelman trying to figure out if he can be "cured".  Edelman being a movie scientist/ doctor is like "why not?"  The same day, frikkin' Larry Talbot shows up *also* looking to be cured of being the Wolfman.  And in the cave below the house?  Frankenstein's monster.  Because why not?  

Whether Drac was serious or not about his cure and whether he was overwhelmed by his own innate evil or not is never explained as he throws the plan out the window to get un-vamped in exchange for trying to turn one of the two nurses into a new bride.  Along the way, Dracula turns the doctor into a sort of quasi-vampire.  Shenanigans ensue.

We have to talk about Nina.



Look, this whole movie is not about Nina, but she's in, like, 1/3rd to 1/2 of the shots the movie.  And I do not know why.  She's set up as a major character, but is not.  She's just... there.

Nina (Jane Adams), the dutiful nurse to Dr. Edelmann, is the poster-specified a hunchback, which is mentioned like once, but otherwise goes unremarked upon.  So she's, visually, always there in bright white nurse-gear and trying to be helpful and has an obvious difference.  

Actress Jane Adams was not a hunchback, and whatever prosthetic they put on her seemed to really bend her over and make her arms hang a certain way.  The character has not a negative bone in her body.  She's sweet and helpful and literally everything points to things working out well for Nina.  Like, they introduce a potential cure for Nina's bone difference - which she gives up to help the frikkin' Wolfman instead.  That's Nina!  Always helpful.  

But at the movie's climax, Nina is just thrown in a pit to her death as a bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Which...  weird flex to suddenly go dark in a movie that feels very much aimed at kids.  

I have no ideas or no theories as to what happened here.  Was there supposed to be another fate for Nina?  Was Nina always doomed?  Was she accidentally in more of the movie than they intended thus drawing focus?  Why take a super cute actress and suggest she needs work and then bump her off with her storyline unresolved?  

It's a mystery wrapped in an enigma and smothered in secret sauce.  But what reading I did do tells me that this movie was on a conveyor belt through pre-production to post-production and while Adams had a swell time working on it, the veteran actors were less than impressed with the industrial approach to movie making that they compared to how TV would be made in a few short years.

Anyway - Nina going down into the pit will now haunt me forever.  

Adams' career in film and TV was not terribly long.  She showed up in 1942 and sort of petered out in the 1950's, finishing with an appearance on The Adventures of Superman in 1953.  It looks like she did a lot of B's, monster and cowboy movies.  She was kind of short for Hollywood, I guess, at 5'3" (which doesn't seem that short), but she attributed that to how she wound up in less than glam-girl roles.

We think she's peachy.

So here's Jane Adams without her prosthetic.  Lovely girl.  Not exactly in the Dwight Fry in weird make-up mode.








Saturday, October 15, 2022

PodCast 216: "Cat People" (1942) and (1982) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  09/06/2022
Format:  Amazon 
Viewing:  Third/ First
Decade:  1940's/ 1980's
Director:  Jacques Tourneur / Paul Scharader




SimonUK and Ryan cover both the 1942 and 1982 versions of a story sure to instill cat scratch fever. Our curiosity doesn't kill us as we check out two films, each a classic in its own way, as relevant meow as they were then! Join us as we compare and contrast, and ponder workplace safety around werebeasts!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Main Title From Cat PeopleConstantin Bakaleinikoff conducted Roy Webb's score
Cat People (Putting Out Fire) - David Bowie & Georgio Moroder


Halloween 2022 Playlist


All Halloween and Horror

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Noir Watch: Gilda (1946)



Watched:  09/24/2022
Format:  BluRay - Criterion
Viewing:  Unknown (3rd?)
Director:  Charles Vidor

I don't talk to many people about Gilda (1946), but I know it's considered one of the greats of the film noir movement.  And I knew that on previous viewings, but it's been a while and we finally cracked open my Criterion BluRay to give the film a spin.  

It's astounding how *modern* some films from almost 80 years ago can feel (see: Touch of Evil)  Specifically in the case of Gilda, I believe it's in part because Gilda has been so often imitated, borrowed and stolen from, and so infrequently matched and perhaps never surpassed.  So, we've all seen movies, television and whatnot that echoes Gilda, but because it holds its place as a very specific story and, with now practically archetypal characters, to see how well the movie works with intricacy of plot, it becomes a film that is both absolutely of 1946 and timeless.  

Credit to the behind-the-lens talent, starting with director Charles Vidor and the handful of talent listed as writers.  And cinematographer Rudolph Mate.  

There's endless ink spilled on Gilda but there's a reason it's Hayworth's most enduring film in a career of amazing pictures.  The movie is adult and sexy and noir-as-hell in all the best ways.  Hayworth and Ford are both bringing their top game, and both play stunningly nuanced characters for any era in cinema.  

Anyway - it was an absolute pleasure to watch.  I look forward to diving into the features on my Criterion disc.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Ida Watch: Ladies in Retirement (1941)





Watched:  09/16/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Charles Vidor

Everything about this movie screams pre-WWII play.  More or less a single location/ set, daffy characters, moments of strong internal reckoning, a maid to be the dumb one, a ne'er-do-well relative, and a dowager-type causing trouble.

And I loved it.  

We picked this as a watch party before we dive into the monster season entirely on the cast.  Starring Ida Lupino, Louis Hayward, Elsa Lanchester, Evelyn Keyes, Isobel Elsom and Edith Barrett, I was entirely curious as I'd only seen mention of the film on Jenifer's blog before - and that was a faded memory.  It's now streaming on Prime, and I suggest you go check it out.  

And, man, is Elsa Lanchester ever good (and so underutilized by Hollywood).




Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Myrna Watch: I Love You Again (1940)




Watched:  08/30/2022
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First?
Director:  W.S. Van Dyke

It's possible I've seen this movie before and simply don't recall watching it.  I believe it's in a DVD set Paul found for me years ago.  I thought I'd watched the whole set, but I don't remember this one in the slightest.

William Powell and Myrna Loy made 14 films together, and the ones I've seen are all pretty terrific.  It's impossible not to dig Powell's charm and Myrna Loy is maybe one of the funniest actors with the smallest effort in all of film, and always utterly buyable.  

Here, the pair team up in a screwball set-up as Powell plays an aggressively boring manager of a plant that makes cookware like pots who is out on a sea voyage when he bonks his head and rather than losing his memory, regains his memories from nine years prior when he was a shady con-man and crook, but loses all memory of the last nine.  During which he married Myrna Loy, who is set to divorce him for being so incredibly boring.  

That, kids, is a set-up.

honestly, pretty typical mealtime here at League HQ


Powell is in almost every shot and scene, and you will find yourself wishing there were more Loy, but when isn't that true?  The pair are firing on all cylinders in Thin Man energy, which is remarkable when you realize Powell is coming off of cancer treatment and the death of his fiance, and Loy was getting divorced.  This had to have been some terrific therapy.  

The additional cast includes familiar face Frank McHugh as a fellow con assisting Powell and giving him someone to talk to, and he's hysterical.  Edmund Lowe plays a career criminal.  Nella Walker is Loy's mother.  And a cast of familiar studio players fill other roles, including a post Our Gang Alfalfa.

The movie is light fluff and maybe a few minutes longer than it needs to be, but I can't say where they should trim.  I laughed out loud a lot.  There are some great gags, terrific word play, and I'll take a Loy side-eye any day.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Hitchcock Watch: Rebecca (1940)




Watched:  08/02/2022
Format:  BluRay - Criterion
Viewing:  Unknown, probably 4th
Director:  Alfred Hitchcock

Way, way back around 1996, I fulfilled an English credit class at university by taking "The Gothic Imagination" along with a handful of pals, including my roommate.  The class was phenomenal, but the funniest part was that the instructor used the first lecture to explain we would not be reading vampire novels, and explained the Bronte sisters to the class, and by the second lecture, I'd say 1/3rd of the class had turned over.  

Y'all need to read Wuthering Heights sometime, and Jane Eyre, because that shit sticks with you.  

Anyway, at some point the instructor decided not to teach and just showed us Alfred Hitchcock's American debut, Rebecca (1940).  I was *hooked*.  I mean, I was in film school, anyway, and was doing that Hitchcock worship thing, but I remember being all in on the movie.  

I'm currently reading Christina Lane's biography of film producer Joan Harrison, Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman behind Hitchcock. and had hit the section on Rebecca - which Harrison played a major role in securing for Hitchcock as he made his American directorial debut.  Recalling I had the BluRay in my possession, I popped it in.

Happily, I can report the movie is as good - or better - than I recall.

A young lady is travelling with a wealthy dowager as a paid companion when, in Monte Carlo, she stumbles across a seemingly haunted gentleman, whom her employer knows as a wealthy widower.  As her employer is laid-up sick, the young woman (Joan Fontaine) is courted by the gentleman (Olivier) and after some twists, they marry.  

Returning to his family home/ amazing mansion, "Manderlay", Fontaine has a hard time adapting to being a "great lady", but her primary issue is that she's dealing with everyone's memory of the first Mrs. deWinter, including that of her (ahem) devoted servant, Mrs. Danvers.  Meanwhile, Maxim deWinter becomes more of a pill by the hour, his own home seeming to haunt him.  Our new Mrs. deWinter fights inner demons, the history around her and the facts around the death of Rebecca.

If you read your Jane Eyre, all of this will have a very similar vibe as a common English girl enters the world of mansions and finds love but it is @#$%ed sideways.

Look, no one is more covered in film conversations than Hitchcock.  And Rebecca gets no small amount of ink spilled.  Personally, I think it's an earned rep.  Hitch is firing on all cylinders, he's got the power of David O. Selznick's machine behind him, and a perfectly assembled cast.  The film delivers some incredibly chilling moments covertly and overtly (Mrs. Danvers encouraging our heroine to leap from the window is... something).  

Frankly - I loved watching this movie again.  It had been so long, I'd mostly forgotten everything but the cast, some impressions and visuals, and the plot itself is an edge-of-your-seat affair for something that has no actual action, just discovery.  It's got some truly remarkable twists that manage no to feel false - no meam feat. 

The movie is gorgeous, and a reminder of the beauty of black and white when you apply subtle gradations - the interiors of Manderlay elegant, spooky and overwhelming.  It's a haunted mansion in the best way possible, and rather than an expressionistic use of extreme shadow, the film is gauzy, like scrims are overlayed at times.  

Anyway - it was phenomenal to revisit, especially in such pristine quality.  I'd only seen it on VHS previously.  



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.