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.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Sunday, August 25, 2019
|there were legit reasons for this being what one wears in space, but I missed it|
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: at least fourth
Decade: Baby, this is the REAL 1970's
Yeah, I watched this movie the first time because Caroline Munro, but it has so, so much more to offer. Star Wars may be the preferred 1970's era sci-fantasy film, but StarCrash (1978) has Christopher Plummer gamely lending his gravitas to a movie with a space-ship shaped like a hand and a 10 story robot with nipples. And, man, that's just. the. start.
Friday, June 14, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
I've been meaning to watch this movie for decades. Literally. I've even owned a copy of it for a few years, but - let's be honest - unless you're one of the Silent Film buffs, it takes a bit of extra energy and focus to get through a 2-hour silent movie.*
I first stumbled across Louise Brooks just as I exited film school (I believe the doc Looking for Lulu was airing on cable), and back then, finding her work was incredibly difficult. I rented a few films in which she appears as a minor or background character, but the GW Pabst stuff eluded me. The DVD copies you were supposed to be able to get were expensive and of notoriously bad quality. But, the past few years, various groups have been restoring and making available some of that height-of-her-career/ powers material.
Friday, February 15, 2019
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
Jamie and I went out for a lovely dinner for Valentine's Day, followed by catching up on Star Trek: Discovery, and then - somehow - I wound up watching this movie, and I think for the fashion choices alone, Jamie didn't object. I thought I'd previously seen Coffy (1973) when I started it - because it's currently streaming free to Amazon Prime subscribers, and, I didn't intend to actually watch it. But I hadn't seen it and the next thing I knew I was an hour in.
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Monday, December 3, 2018
Viewing: Unknown. 6th?
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
First of all, "The Killing" that occurs in this movie is not an assassination. It could refer to about five or ten different things, and I suppose that's intentional. I'd start with "they're gonna make a killing on this heist", but, of course, this is a 1950's-era heist movie, so you know it's not ending in sunshine and flowers.
The Killing (1956) sits on a curious edge when it comes to crime dramas/ noir. Marking maverick, young filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's first foray into studio-backed cinema, the movie feels part and parcel of the noir movement with a structure and an ending not atypical for a dime-store crime novel, retaining those rough edges that some noir eschewed. As much as I like The Asphalt Jungle and Rafifi - likely The Killing had more impact and reflects more of where the heist genre would go - especially in American cinema (at least marginally).
Saturday, August 4, 2018
As part of their Summer Under the Stars month-long programming event, TCM has blocked Monday, August 6th for a slate of films starring another patron saint of The Signal Watch, actress Audrey Totter.
There are several listed that I haven't seen yet and many I have. We think you should set your DVRs and watch an Audrey movie or three.