Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: Roy Rowland
Cyd Charisse is Star of the Month on TCM. We're on record that Cyd Charisse is a pretty good idea in general, and so we're going to watch some of these movies we've not seen before (they're airing on Tuesdays in June).
This one felt more or less like an excuse for a variety of talents and Vegas floor shows to do a little something here and there in a showcase tucked between the paper-thin story of a Vegas gambler/ rancher and a ballerina who meet and fall in love. That ballerina is, of course, Charisse. You won't know the gambler/ rancher.
But the movie also has Agnes Moorehead as an earthy ranchwoman, Jim Backus as a casino manager, George Chakiris as a young romantic, Paul Henreid as Cyd's manager, Frankie Lane as Frankie Lane, and... most exciting of surprises... Lena Horne as Lena Horne.
It's... dopey and fine. I don't love it. Charisse is amazing in every one of her numbers, not the least of which is a "Frankie and Johnny" performance (with narration by Sammy Davis Jr.).
Anyway, I wouldn't rush out to see it, but it's... fine.
Monday, February 8, 2021
All I noticed was that - for reasons unknown - TCM was airing a full day of Lana Turner movies today. They do this sort of thing, and I didn't give it a tremendous amount of thought other than - "gee, Lana Turner!".
It turns out today is the 100th birthday of screen legend Lana Turner.
If you've never seen Turner in a movie and want to see what the hubbub is about, I'd check out The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Turner was a thing of myth from her earliest career. If you ever heard legends of actresses discovered at Schwab's Drug Store, that's Turner.* She'd get dubbed "The Sweater Girl" for how she filled out her wardrobe. Her personal life would take a few seasons of television to cover. She was married nine times (starting with band leader Artie Shaw) and was probably most famous for her romance/ abuse situation with mob figure Johnny Stompanato that led to his death under confusing circumstances.
But, as always, Turner rebounded. I first saw her in the 1959 movie Imitation of Life (a thoughtful entry for a screening back in film school) alongside fellow legend Juanita Moore. If you've not seen it, fix that. It's a terrific movie, a solid melodrama, and an examplar of the mid-century "women's picture" (and will give you a good idea what people are referring to when they reference Douglas Sirk).
Like picking a Rita Hayworth film to watch, there's always the guilt of "why am I picking this movie?", but here's the deal - Turner was much more than her conisderable good looks. Whatever was going on in her tragic and turbulent personal life (you can Google it), she's a natural actor and wouldn't have stayed on top for decade after decade if she didn't bring something special to her roles. And she worked steadily from the late 30's to the mid-70's.
I'm going to be watching Johnny Eager this week and might see if I can talk Jamie into Imitation of Life. But if you've not seen The Bad and the Beautiful, go for it.
*it wasn't actually Schwab's, but who are we or Turner to get in the way of a good story?
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Format: Watch Party
Director: Arthur Hilton
This is a very, very silly movie, but it stars Marie Windsor, so it can't be all wrong.
They aren't women who are cats, they are women in cat suits. Cat women. You know.
Monday, August 3, 2020
Sunday, July 5, 2020
Format: TCM on DVR
Director(s): Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Look, I'm not *proud* of the whole Ann Miller thing, but there it is.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM
Director: Orson Welles
The backstory to the making of The Lady From Shanghai (1947) is famous, gossipy Hollywood lore. Hayworth starred alongside soon-to-be-ex husband and director, Orson Welles, transformed from the red-coiffed icon of Gilda into a platinum blonde and a femme fatale.
A bit like The Big Sleep, a lot of people talk about how this movie is confusing, but I didn't find it particularly so. While I cop to the fact that The Lady from Shanghai isn't a pat story and that the plot wanders - it all holds together within each character's motivation, and I don't really get the complaints. From Muller's shownotes, I'll give the credit for cohesive storytelling not to Welles, but to his editor Viola Lawrence, who took Welles' loose footage and worked with him to get it into some sort of story, and got it cut to a standard-length picture when Welles left the movie.
Sunday, May 3, 2020
|this poster does absolutely nothing to convey what this movie is about|
Format: Criterion BluRay
Viewing: Unknown - fourth or fifth?
Director: Howard Hawks
First - I'm adding the director of a film to my list of stats at the top not because I particularly adhere to the auteur theory of cinema (we can talk more about that in depth sometime), but because it's a somewhat interesting stat, and easier to decipher than who produced a film. You can look up writers on your own. I'll retroactively figure it out for all the movies I watched in 2020, but this is at least my second Howard Hawks movie this year, and I thought it would be interesting to spot trends in January 2021 when I do my numbers round-up.
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Hoo-boy. Apparently Howard Hughes realized, after loaning out Jane Russell to Fox for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1952) and watching them make a mint, *he* had a Jane Russell under contract at RKO that he didn't need to loan out at all. So, he decided to make another splashy musical about Jane Russell on a boat headed for Paris all on his own. And if people liked a bit of sexiness, he was going to shove Jane Russell into even sexier outfits! And he'sdrelease the movie in 3D! Jane Russell would be dancing and standing around as if she were in the room! You guys get it? wink wink nod nod need I say more?
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Monday, April 20, 2020
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
Decade: Italian 1970's
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Bunch of chuckleheads got together on Friday evening for a live-tweeting of Starcrash, the finest Italian-produced 1978 sci-fi film featuring a cowboy robot that I've ever heard of.
And I will defend Stella Star's fashion choices with my last, dying breath.
Friday, April 17, 2020
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: Josef von Sternberg/ Nicholas Ray
I've been trying to track this movie down for years. Fortunately, this month on TCM, Jane Russell is Star of the Month on TCM. And, in any circumstance, Jane Russell is just an excellent idea.
This one has not just Russell as a lounge singer, she co-stars with Robert Mitchum, with whom she was apparently pretty good pals. It also has Thomas Gomez and Gloria Grahame in an oddly small role for her chops (this is five years after Crossfire and the same year she got an Oscar nom for The Bad and the Beautiful). Throw in William Bendix (as one always should) and Brad Dexter, and you've got an interesting cast. Not to mention the large cast of Asian and Asian-American extras and supporting roles.
Monday, April 6, 2020
Honor Blackman, who starred in Goldfinger and on TV's The Avengers has passed at the age of 94.
For me, Blackman sets the bar for all "Bond Girls", up to and including Diana Rigg and Eva Green, and remains my favorite (she literally saves thousands of lives in Goldfinger while Bond is in jail). Look, Blackman was a stone cold fox who could make a white pantsuit sing, but she also plays the role of Pussy Galore to perfection. She's among the few female costars who ever gave a Bond a run of their money, and there's a reason (beyond the colorful name) that she's remembered so well 50-odd years later.
It was always great to know she was out there, and she'll be missed.
|I mean, purple works, too|
You can hear me wax rhapsodic about Pussy Galore on our Goldfinger podcast.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Today is the birthday of Ida Lupino, born this day in 1918.
A phenomenal actor, she also went on to direct and produce - while continuing to act. While kinda unknown to the general public these days, she has her die-hard fanbase among film fans.
Be cool. Get to know Ida Lupino.
|get you a girl who can do it all|
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Happy birthday to Star Trek phenom Nichelle Nichols, who is a pioneer of television and pop culture as well as a pioneer in making a 10 year old The League's heart go pitter-patter.
And a 44 year old The League's heart go pitter-patter. But I digress.
Here's to one of the greats on her b-day! May she have cake, family and friends!
Monday, October 28, 2019
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
I am well aware of the hurricane force that is Bette Davis, but for whatever reason, I don't wind up taking enough advantage of her expansive filmography. Sometimes I feel genuine guilt in regards to this deficiency, and - as this Davis-induced-remorse had occurred once again recently - I decided to remedy the issue by force-marching Jamie through a 90 minute movie that, frankly, I knew nothing about.
A prestige picture of sorts from pre-war Warner Bros., The Letter (1940) makes not just for an interesting time capsule, but a fascinating melodrama and noir, punctuated by Davis' terrific performance. With a script based upon a 1927 play (and previously made into a movie during the silent era), the material of the film is well honed, a tight, taught narrative with a number of fascinating characters and smart dialog.