Sunday, September 18, 2022
Ida Watch: Ladies in Retirement (1941)
Format: Amazon Watch Party
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).
Sunday, August 21, 2022
Watch Party Watch: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: Alfred Werker
Well. What's not to like, really?
If you like Holmes books, this is... close-ish. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are kind of the model for on-screen Holmes and Watson. There's a great villain in Moriarty. And a young Ida Lupino is charming as hell at the center of it all.
What's amazing is how undated the film feels some 80 years later. You can imagine all of this as the plot and performances in a modern Sherlock retelling, And maybe that's because they made 14 of these movies in the span of less than a decade - not quite a serial, but certainly a series that left enough of an impact that this was how it was done until the 21st Century decided "what if Holmes was not at all like Holmes?" in two separate series of movies and a TV show.
I won't say the movie was flawless, but it was very, very *fun*, which is what I'm looking for in my Holmes reading or adaptations. Give me a Holmes and Watson on the case, and a mystery I can't solve on my own, and I'll come back for more.
It will *surely* annoy Jamie that now that I know there are 13 more of these, I'm gonna watch them. But she knew what I was about when she married me, so.
Friday, July 22, 2022
Ida Watch: While the City Sleeps (1956)
Viewing: 4th? 5th?
Director: Fritz Lang
I've written this movie up multiple times. I really like it, and I like it more every time I watch it.
It's a newsroom film from mid-Century America, with shades of noir - but the cast in this movie is unreal and worth checking out, and it's the last, great Fritz Lang film.
Here's who you have in the film:
Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, George Sanders, Rhonda Fleming, Thomas Mitchell, John Drew Barrymore, Sally Forrest and... Ida Lupino.
I mean, it's worth the price of admission just for the cast and director, but I dig the hell out of this movie.
It's a workplace dramady, a hard-nosed newspaper/ media film, a suspense-thriller and absolutely an ensemble piece. It moves at a newspaper movie clip, and you have to pay a bit of attention to keep up. But if you do - the workplace drama is phenomenal, and while a fascinating look at "juvenile delinquency" as seen through the lens of the 1950's - complete with blaming *comic books* for driving a young man to murder.
If you're looking for how one keeps sex and shenanigans just off screen in a Hayes Code era movie, this one is a lulu. And despite Rhonda Fleming performing calisthenics, Ida Lupino is the thing you'll keep your eyes on through the whole film.
This was Jamie's first viewing, and she spoke up afterwards about how great Lupino's character and performance were as a nuanced character with her own agenda. I'm in complete agreement. Lupino takes what's on the page, which could have been words given to anyone, and absolutely elevates the role as smart, conniving, amoral and sexy as hell.
She also drinks champagne with a peach in it, and I need to look up what the actual hell is happening there.
Anyway - this is becoming one of my favorite films. Just a good watch every time.
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Ida Watch: The Man I Love (1947)
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.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Ida Watch: Out of the Fog (1941)
Format: Criterion Channel
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)
Format: Criterion Channel
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?
Saturday, February 5, 2022
Happy Belated Birthday to Ida Lupino
Yesterday was the birthday of film star, producer and director, Ida Lupino.
She's in several amazing films, including a personal favorite, While the City Sleeps. In the movie, she plays the fast-talking gossip reporter for a major newspaper, who wants to get with Dana Andrews (and does, somewhat on screen enough that you know offscreen the characters hooked up) but he returns to his pure as the driven snow girlfriend in the film's finish.
Dana Andrews made a wrong choice.
|you fool, Andrews.|
Friday, September 24, 2021
Ida Watch: Private Hell 36 (1954)
|this movie was also released as "Baby Face Killers" which makes no sense and is hilarious|
Director: Don Siegel
I'd see this one before, one of the films from The Filmmakers, the producing company founded by Ida Lupino and her husband at the time. Lupino had co-written the film, and co-stars in what I find an interesting role as a down-on-her-luck lounge singer who happens to be a witness valuable to two detectives (Steve Cochrane and Howard Duff) as they seek a murderer who has fled to LA and is now passing bills known to have been stolen in a murder/ robbery.
It's a cheaper film, so it's smaller and occasionally falls into the trap of letting scenes linger on so we can make the necessary 80 minute feature run-time. And there's a whole scene at the beginning that seems like a favor to Steve Cochrane so he can tear apart a set and do some cool action sequence stuff (there's not a ton of action, otherwise).
But, I do like the set-up quite a bit. Cochrane as the morally-shakey cop, Huff as the cop with a wife (Dorothy Malone in platinum hair) and kid who wants to be the one with the straight moral compass - who are assigned to track down the mysterious NY criminals. Along the way they meet Lupino and eventually track down the criminal - and all that cash.
Cochrane believes he needs money if he's going to keep Lupino, and Huff... is conflicted. If the movie has a slow mid-section, it has some great moments of punctuation.
Anyway, it's got some pure noir baked in, and something of an accidental femme fatale.
Friday, April 9, 2021
Ida/ Noir Watch: Woman in Hiding (1950)
Director: Michael Gordon
Well, it's still coming up on my birthday, and Jamie said "watch whatever, it's your b-day." And, with a Totter movie cleared we moved on to Ida Lupino. Well, friends, while it may have started pre-pandemic, Jamie has thrown in with the Ida Lupino Fan train the past year, for sure. So, this selection was saluted.
I'd not previously seen Woman in Hiding (1950), but picked it up cheap on BluRay, because: Lupino.
I will argue that the noir movement splintered into several familiar genres, from the erotic thriller to the Lifetime Network's basic movie programming. Film's with "women in peril" such as Sudden Fear and Beware, My Lovely - which definitely have precedents from the start of film found a home in the crime genres of the 1950's, doubling as "women's films" with plucky heroines (scared out of their minds) and some chisel-jawed dude who might come to the rescue. By the early 00's: I mean - have you seen the names of movies on the Lifetime Network?*
Woman in Hiding follows Ida Lupino playing the daughter of a wealthy mill-owner in small-town North Carolina. After the accidental death of her father, she marries the factory foreman, only to be met at their honeymoon cottage by a young woman informing Lupino "he was my man, he married you for the mill, and he probably killed your dad."
Freaked out, Lupino goes into HIDING (see - the title is accurate). Here she meets Howard Duff (whom she's marry the next year) and shenanigans ensue.
The film does contain a drinking game noir item - there's a convention in the hotel where they're staying.
The film co-stars the lovely Peggy Dow in one of her very few film roles - she was also in the film version of Harvey that same year - and she was out of movies by 1952. Which is a shame - she's great here and totally different from her character in Harvey.
It also stars "that guy" actor Taylor Holmes, as well as Don Beddoe.
This isn't my favorite Lupino role, but that's the script more than anything she's doing. But, man, when confronted by Dow's character with what her new husband of less than a day may have done - she's got a lot to do there and nails it.
Special nod on this one to cinematographer William H. Daniels. He manages to get in some great stuff, especially in the sequence on the stairwell, on the bus and in the finale sequence. Gorgeous looking noir stuff. And letting the drafts in the stairwell kick at Lupino's skirt of her dress was pretty great (and likely a happy accident).
*it's a parade of playing on paranoia re: domestic insecurity mixed with actual issues of domestic trauma, and it's a wild ride that Lifetime programs that shit 24/7 and then flips to "and now two months of movies about Santa being your boyfriend's dad".
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Ida Lupino at 103
Today marks Ida Lupino's date of birth, 1918. She's a favorite here at The Signal Watch, and I probably go on about her too much, but that's just how we're gonna be. I will defend this decision forever.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Ida Watch Party Watch: Jennifer (1953)
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: Joel Newton
A thriller which lifts elements from plenty of Gothic mysteries, borrows from noir, and has an ending that's maybe whatever the opposite is of deus ex machina, Jennifer (1953) has some great things going for it, but was not my cup of tea, exactly, but I found myself actually fairly wrapped up in the mystery.
Starring the lovely and talented Ida Lupino, with photography by James Wong Howe (one of the best to ever DP a movie), it still feels oddly like a B- picture, and maybe it was. The film runs (blessedly) short, relies upon a small cast where Lupino is the biggest star, and we see only a handful of locations.
Lupino wasn't quite done with movies at this point, and two of my favorite of hers follow this one: Private Hell 36 and the phenomenal The City That Never Sleeps. She'd just come off two great films with Robert Ryan, Beware, My Lovely and the icy On Dangerous Ground. By the time she hit her 40's in the late 1950's, she was more or less transitioning to TV where she'd remain for the rest of her career - as, at the same time, she took to directing as much or more than acting.*
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Forgot to Write It Up Watch: "The Bigamist" (1953) and "A Crime Against Joe" (1956)
Watched: The Bigamist 09/02 and ACAJ 09/09/2020
Format: Watch Party w/ Jenifer
Viewing: First for both
Director: Ida Lupino and Lee Sholem
Jenifer's been hosting Amazon Watch Parties on Wednesdays, and she's picked some good ones. And A Crime Against Joe (1956).
I was delighted to finally see The Bigamist, starring and directed by the great Ida Lupino. And I watched A Crime Against Joe. It was certainly a movie.
Not doing a write up of either, but suffice it to say, anything with Lupino is a pretty good idea, and seeing her get to direct is always a treat.
|Lupino ponders how Edmond O'Brien of all guys landed two women at once|
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Happy Birthday, Ida Lupino
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|
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Noir Watch: While the City Sleeps (1956)
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
I'm always going to support a movie that features Ida Lupino slinging back drinks, dropping snappy dialog and not exactly being coy about her interests. She's, however, just one of many name talents in While the City Sleeps (1956), an ensemble drama about the women and men at work in a major metropolitan newspaper. Directed by Fritz Lang, this one features: Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Thomas Mitchell, John Drew Barrymore, Sally Forrest and more, all bringing their A-game and making for a fun, unsentimental look at how the sausage is made in the big news game.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Noir/ Lupino Watch: On Dangerous Ground (1951)
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
If I were to buy this movie on Bluray (and it's Lupino, so don't count me out), I would wish it had Eddie Muller's conversations which bookended the showing on Noir Alley. Muller says he's doing "barroom, not classroom", but I'll argue that by showing a wide variety of films on Noir Alley and talking about why we should pay attention, discussing what happened during production, etc... and not just lauding whatever it is we're about to see, Noir Alley is one of the best movie-watching experiences and educations you can hope for. And, yeah, he makes it all as casual as a talk over cocktails.
On Dangerous Ground (1951) is directed by Nicholas Ray and stars two of my favorite denizens of Noir Alley, Ida Lupino* and Robert Ryan (here wearing a coat and hat and a tough cops face in a way I wish with all my heart I could pull off). I'd meant to watch it some time ago, and I can't recall why it fell off the list - but now was the time! Muller certainly discussed details of the film and production, but his real focus was on the Bernard Herrmann score. And it is very, very much a Bernard Herrmann score, which is almost off to see against an RKO b&w cop picture.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Seafaring Watch: The Sea Wolf (1941)
For some reason folks try to file this movie under "noir", and... maybe...? But I'm going to just go ahead and say "drama". I'm not willing to do mental the work to turn a Jack London story on a boat into a noir.
I actually broke one of my own rules and purchased this BluRay a couple of months ago having had never seen the movie. Honestly, I looked at the starring names, looked at the source material and the name of the director and figured "I've spent money on far worse films".
A wildly timely movie - perhaps depressingly so - as the original story by novelist Jack London was adapted to reflect the times. A man on the run played by John Garfield joins up with a ship (agreeing after almost getting shanghied). Meanwhile, an escaped convict (Lupino) is hiding on a ferry to San Francisco when it's struck by a steamship. She and a writer (Knox) are rescued by the crew of The Ghost, but with no intention of setting them back to land. The Ghost is a 1900-era pirate ship, and those aboard are a crew of the worst of society, who hate themselves almost as much as they hate each other (and assume the worst in everyone).
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Noir City Austin - Day 2: "City That Never Sleeps" (1953) & "Private Hell 36" (1954)
Format: Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Long ago I had purchased tickets to see a baseball game in the evening, so I was only scheduled to see two films for Noir City Austin, Day 2.
The theme for 2019 was a follow up on 2018, which was Noir in the 1940's, year-by-year. This 10 film cycle was tracing noir as we left the 1940's and how and why the films changed as we hit the 1950's as cultural issues crept into the films and television competed with the big screen and informed the lives of characters on screen. And, by the mid-to-late 1950's, began influencing how movies were shot so they'd work on the television sets of the era as Hollywood looked to cash in on the secondary income stream.
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Noir-ish Watch: High Sierra (1941)
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing: at least fourth
I've surely written this movie up before, but it's a great heist flick. Maybe not Ashpalt Jungle good, but one for the pantheon. And, it was a breakout movie for Bogart, hot on the heels of Petrified Forest. And, of course, it broke Ida Lupino, which is a boon to us all.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Noir Watch: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
Format: BluRay from Kino Lorber
I told myself that this year I was going to watch all of the films I could obtain which were directed by Ms. Ida Lupino.
I primarily know Ida Lupino as an actor who sort of radiates a certain razor sharp intellect in roles as hero or villain, whether she's vicious or kind. She's up there in my list of actors whose films I'll give a go even if the movie isn't to my taste.*
But as she is not *in* the movies she directs (understandably), I've not gotten around to seeing what she did standing behind the lens (less understandably). Of the films, the most famous is likely the 1953 noir thriller, The Hitch-Hiker, which I recently picked up as a BluRay edition released by Kino Lorber, made from a restoration print struck at the Library of Congress.
Monday, February 4, 2019
Ida Lupino at 101
Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of screen actor, director and producer Ida Lupino. Ida Lupino passed in 1995.
I first came to note Lupino in High Sierra, I believe (I can't recall anymore), and have gone on to try and watch whatever I see going by on TCM. Yes, she's a terrific actor and has a presence that stills like the one above don't always capture. There's an intelligence to her work that - when I learned she had gone on to do work behind the camera and established her own production company, just sort of made sense. She had the misfortune of being a woman born two or three decades too early, who still managed to carve out a place for herself in a field controlled by men.
In 2018, a few retrospectives took place honoring her work and legacy. Did I watch any of her films from these retrospectives on my own time? No. Something I need to rectify.
But I am glad that Lupino's reputation is getting elevated and the strides she made during her career are being seen by today's film fans and makers.
Anyway, I hereby pledge that before Ms. Lupino's 102nd, and pending availability, I will watch the following projects which she directed:
- Never Fear (1950)
- Outrage (1950)
- Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951)
- On Dangerous Ground (1951)
- The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
- The Bigamist (1953)
- The Twilight Zone: The Masks (1964)
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