Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Stage Fright from 1950 with Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Richard Todd, Michael Wilding and Alastair Sim

All Hitchcock-directed movies carry the weight of being "Hitchcock films," which is probably why this solid movie is not particularly well known as it's generally regarded as one of his "lesser efforts."

And maybe it is, but few pick a movie based on the director and, away from the Hitchcock mystique, this is a fine and entertaining film. It also feels more like his earlier 1930s efforts than the "big" movies still to come in the 1950s or even his very tight films from the 1940s like "Suspicion" and "Rebecca."

Jane Wyman, an aspiring actress, tries to help her boyfriend, Richard Todd, who is accused of killing the husband of his paramour, Marlene Dietrich. While that's enough to unravel, since this is Hitchcock, there's more: Dietrich is nearly twenty years Todd's senior (making Dietrich a cougar before the word took on that meaning) and appears to have killed her husband and set Todd up to take the fall...or not.

Despite finding out at the same time that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with a woman nearly two decades older than she and that he also might be a murderer, Wyman doesn't pause to risk her own life and freedom trying to exculpate her boyfriend.

From here, the movie is very Hitchcockian as innocent people do more and more illegal things trying to prove their own or someone else's innocence, thus getting into deeper and deeper trouble with the police. Also in classic Hitchcock fashion, Wyman befriends the detective on the murder case to gain information and direct his investigation, but then begins to fall for him. This makes for a quite interesting love triangle as, as noted, her boyfriend is also the prime murder suspect.

Early on, Wyman reaches out to her father, Alastair Sim, a member of the upper class who has drifted Bohemian and, thus, enjoys both helping his daughter in her illegal sleuthing efforts and tweaking the police. And Sim becomes the joy of the movie as he insouciantly guides his much-more-serious-than-he daughter's efforts while seeing and joyfully smirking at all the silliness and hypocrisy around him. He owns every scene he's in and you miss him when he isn't there.

The rest of the movie plays out as you'd expect. Things get worse for Todd and Wyman while Dietrich seems to be getting away with everything. Along the way, we get some near-missed opportunities to expose Dietrich, the police ploddingly but effectively putting the pieces together (a classic Hitchcock touch), a creepy doll used for psychological effect, a harrowing chase scene, a Hitchcock cameo and then, literally, the final curtain falling.

The acting is top notch, the story is serviceable and, while there are tense moments, like many of the master director's efforts, the overall feel is almost light and joyful - it's as much about love and family as it is about murder and mayhem. Yes, it's fair to say this is not Hitchcock's best, but as a run-of-the-mill movie, it's better than many.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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It's a Wonderful World from 1939 with Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert

A private detective, Stewart, is arrested trying to protect his wealthy elderly client from being charged with a murder his client didn't commit. The wealthy client's young wife and her lover are trying to frame her husband for murder so that he'll be executed and she will get his money. That's the movie's conflict, but it's really just an excuse to put Stewart and Colbert together.

And that happens when Stewart, now convicted of aiding his client in avoiding arrest, escapes from the train taking him to prison. Hiding out in the woods, he meets up with, for her day, free-spirited Colbert who is so smitten with Stewart that she quickly goes from being his hostage to accomplice even as the two bicker during their efforts to elude capture.

It's probably obvious by now that this is a riff on It Happened One Night. However, the charming chemistry that Gable and Colbert have, as somewhat antagonists in that one (not my favorite move, but it is a recognized classic), doesn't develop, at all, between Stewart and Colbert in this one.

Stewart tries too hard to be gruff while Colbert is outright annoying as she, literally, screeches her way through some of her scenes. And to make things worse, her poetess character periodically quotes verse to either woo Stewart or, I guess, advance the plot, but it's simply awful.

The rest of the movie is Stewart and Colbert attempting to avoid capture while also finding evidence to exonerate Stewart and his client. The plot gets unnecessarily confusing with a bunch of screwball comedy stuff happening along the way that grates only modestly less than Colbert's character.

It is, effectively, a 1940's rom-com, so you know what will happen. But that doesn't really matter as you're just supposed to enjoy watching Stewart and Colbert fall in love. The best part about that finally happening is that the movie is, then, mercifully, over.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
@mikel,

Hi, what do you think about changing the name of this thread to "Recently Watched Movies" (or something similar) as it's really evolved into being a place where we discuss movies we've seen recently versus (as starting member @oli150194 quite appropriately did) listing our favorite movies?

Just a thought.

And welcome, @oli150194 - glad you joined us.
 

TKI67

Super Member
We are lit majors in this household and love Jane Austen. Over the years there have been numerous versions of Pride and Prejudice. We recently rewatched the six hour A&E version with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, the gold standard. We also watched the new Emma. Bill Nighy was, as he always is, wonderful, and much of the movie was very well cast and very well done, but it is on the whole well below the Gwyneth Paltrow et al. version. It felt almost like a stage production at times in an highly stylized way that was distracting more than endearing.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
We are lit majors in this household and love Jane Austen. Over the years there have been numerous versions of Pride and Prejudice. We recently rewatched the six hour A&E version with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, the gold standard. We also watched the new Emma. Bill Nighy was, as he always is, wonderful, and much of the movie was very well cast and very well done, but it is on the whole well below the Gwyneth Paltrow et al. version. It felt almost like a stage production at times in an highly stylized way that was distracting more than endearing.
I've read all her books and have seen most of the movies. And, embarrassingly, have even read a few of the "offshoot" modern "Austen" books (like this not good one "The Jane Austen Society" #791 )

My favorite, today (my favorite has changed a few times over the years), adaptation is the 1940 "Pride and Prejudice" with Greer Garson. Her performance as Elizabeth is incredible as is Edmund Gwenn's as the father. And the scenes when those two are together are movie gold.

Also, the critical Elizabeth-Lady Catherine confrontation scene is insanely well done in this version. To be sure, it's a 1940s movie, so it has the style of that period, but still, I find it is the one I enjoy the most to watch again and again.

It's been awhile since I've seen it, but I also remember really liking the 1995 "Sense and Sensibility" with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.
 

TKI67

Super Member
I've read all her books and have seen most of the movies. And, embarrassingly, have even read a few of the "offshoot" modern "Austen" books (like this not good one "The Jane Austen Society" #791 )

My favorite, today (my favorite has changed a few times over the years), adaptation is the 1940 "Pride and Prejudice" with Greer Garson. Her performance as Elizabeth is incredible as is Edmund Gwenn's as the father. And the scenes when those two are together are movie gold.

Also, the critical Elizabeth-Lady Catherine confrontation scene is insanely well done in this version. To be sure, it's a 1940s movie, so it has the style of that period, but still, I find it is the one I enjoy the most to watch again and again.

It's been awhile since I've seen it, but I also remember really liking the 1995 "Sense and Sensibility" with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.
Yes. The Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility was spectacularly good. I love the 1940 Pride and Prejudice too. To me the Keira Knightley version has phenomenal aspects but fails when it deviates from Jane Austen.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Jeopardy from 1953 with Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan and Ralph Meeker

At one hour and seven minutes in runtime and with a pretty straight-foward, family-in-jeopardy plot, this is more like a really well-done one-hour TV drama than a major-motion-picture release. But within its box, it's outstanding.

An American family, mother (Stanwyck), father (Sullivan) and son, are vacationing on a remote Mexican beach when Sullivan gets his leg caught in the remains of an old pier. Unable to free him and with the tide balefully coming in, Stanwyck goes for help hindered by the remoteness of the location and the language barrier.

As drama, it draws you in owing to the quick shift from happy family vacationing to husband only hours away from being drowned while his wife desperately speeds along a remote single-lane road in search of help. Director John Sturges keeps the tension elevated as he regularly cuts back to scenes of the husband, with water rising higher around him in each successive shot, eventually trying to keep his young son calm who has yet to fully process what's happening to his dad.

And then, everything gets much worse. At an isolated-and-closed-for-a-local-fiesta gas station, Stanwyck runs into a young American man (Meeker) whom she asks for help. Moments later, as he's getting in the car, we and she realize he's not a kindly stranger but a thug seizing an opportunity.

So now, Stanwyck is in the car with what, we quickly learn, is an escaped convict looking to capitalize on the family's situation any way he can. Using a gun taken from Stanwyck and reminding her that if she dies so does her husband, Stanwyck helps him pass several roadblocks and other police encounters all looking for him.

Stanwyck, adumbrating the character she'll perfect later in her The Big Valley TV days, tries everything, including physically attacking the much-bigger Meeker*, to get away and get back to helping her husband, but Meeker is up to the challenge from Stanwyck's hundred pounds of fury. Finally, it comes down to this, all buried deep in movie-code lingo and signaling: Stanwyck agrees to have sex with Meeker if he'll, then, help rescue her husband. Blink and you'll miss it, but that's what happened.

After that, it's a shared cigarette - just kidding - it's off to rescue the husband in a pretty gripping scene for 1950s special effects including a rope struggling to provide enough torque and a car that can't get enough traction as the incoming tide all but swallows up Sullivan. It's not Citizen Kane, but with TV in its infancy, these short, well-done sixty-minute movies - with first-rate actors - provided solid TV-style entertainment to a movie-going public.


*If filmed today, petite Stanwyck would have beaten up fit and close-to-twice-her-weight Meeker because in 2020-TV-and-movie land, petite women regularly beat up physically fit men nearly twice their weight, but that interesting understanding of physics and reality hadn't happened yet in 1953.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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The Killing from 1956 with Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor and Joe Sawyer

Crime dramas with heavy doses of film noir were big in the 1950s with The Asphalt Jungle being the apotheosis of the genre. But The Killing deserves a mention as it's really a stripped-down version of The Asphalt Jungle.

Whereas The Asphalt Jungle gives you a lot of character background, relationships and the planning of the heist from the absolute beginning, The Killing strips much of that away. It simply says: here are some bad men, we'll hint at their background, but know they have a complex and thoughtful plan to rob a racetrack, so we'll just drop you in right before the plan is launched.

Thus, The Killing starts with the team of five crooks, led by Sterling Hayden (who is one intimidating-looking man), going over the final details of the plan while you learn a little about each man's motivation for stealing and responsibility in the heist. And while Hayden is trying to run a tight ship, one of the plotters, Elisha Cook Jr., has a bullying and badgering wife, Marie Windsor, who coaxes some information out of him about the plan, which - and you get this early - sows a major seed of destruction.

Effectively, the first hour of the movie is seeing everyone rehearse his part, which - and you know director Stanley Kubrick knew this - kinda gets you on the side of the crooks; after all, you see how hard everyone is working to knock off the racetrack, even the crooked cop. We are all pretty much hardwired to want to see diligence and effort like that rewarded.

From there, it's game day, uh, heist day and, as you'd expect, some pieces go flawlessly while others get gummed up requiring on-the-fly adjustments. But since you've fully bought into the plan at this point, you are excited to see it in action. Plus, heck, there are some great racetrack, gunfight, chase and hold up scenes all flying by really fast.

The heist's twenty or so minutes are the heart and soul of the movie and they don't disappoint. From a sniper shooting at a horse in the middle of a race to a giant sack of money flying out a second-story window, each piece is gripping. And it concludes with the wonderful moment when the bag o' money leaves the track in the trunk of a car as the cops speed by it going in the other direction trying to stop the heist. The entire segment is a deeply engaging action sequence that holds up very well today.

After that, it's back to the meeting place to divide up the money where all hell breaks loose - thank you Marie Windsor (the bitter wife) - but you want to see it without any prior knowledge so we'll stop there. Also, the final scene is perfectly done and beautifully filmed, but to avoid spoilers, I'll only say that you feel the heartbreak of head-crook Hayden as, no surprise since this is a 1950s movie, his ill-gotten gains, effectively, blow away.

Kubrick cut away almost all the fat in this one as you pretty much strap in from the opening sequence and only get a few chances to catch your breath. There is an oddly out-of-place, occasional documentary-like narrative voice-over that tries to provide additional exposition and framing, but it, unfortunately, is the one awkward note in an otherwise tight and gripping film. Despite that, for a low-budget effort with highly talented-but-not-marquee-name actors, The Killing (odd title) belongs in the top tier of crime-drama movies.


N.B. Had, at some point, devoted husband Elisha Cook Jr. decided to off his harridan wife who was always belittling and cheating on him and, by chance, you noticed Cook burying a body - not saying whose body - late at night, I'd forgive you for looking the other way. Sure, I get the sanctity of life, the Ten Commandments - the morality of it all - but then, I wasn't married to that woman.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 49621
The Killing from 1956 with Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor and Joe Sawyer

Crime dramas with heavy doses of film noir were big in the 1950s with The Asphalt Jungle being the apotheosis of the genre. But The Killing deserves a mention as it's really a stripped-down version of The Asphalt Jungle.

Whereas The Asphalt Jungle gives you a lot of character background, relationships and the planning of the heist from the absolute beginning, The Killing strips much of that away. It simply says: here are some bad men, we'll hint at their background, but know they have a complex and thoughtful plan to rob a racetrack, so we'll just drop you in right before the plan is launched.

Thus, The Killing starts with the team of five crooks, led by Sterling Hayden (who is one intimidating-looking man), going over the final details of the plan while you learn a little about each man's motivation for stealing and responsibility in the heist. And while Hayden is trying to run a tight ship, one of the plotters, Elisha Cook Jr., has a bullying and badgering wife, Marie Windsor, who coaxes some information out of him about the plan, which - and you get this early - sows a major seed of destruction.

Effectively, the first hour of the movie is seeing everyone rehearse his part, which - and you know director Stanley Kubrick knew this - kinda gets you on the side of the crooks; after all, you see how hard everyone is working to knock off the racetrack, even the crooked cop. We are all pretty much hardwired to want to see diligence and effort like that rewarded.

From there, it's game day, uh, heist day and, as you'd expect, some pieces go flawlessly while others get gummed up requiring on-the-fly adjustments. But since you've fully bought into the plan at this point, you are excited to see it in action. Plus, heck, there are some great racetrack, gunfight, chase and hold up scenes all flying by really fast.

The heist's twenty or so minutes are the heart and soul of the movie and they don't disappoint. From a sniper shooting at a horse in the middle of a race to a giant sack of money flying out a second-story window, each piece is gripping. And it concludes with the wonderful moment when the bag o' money leaves the track in the trunk of a car as the cops speed by it going in the other direction trying to stop the heist. The entire segment is a deeply engaging action sequence that holds up very well today.

After that, it's back to the meeting place to divide up the money where all hell breaks loose - thank you Marie Windsor (the bitter wife) - but you want to see it without any prior knowledge so we'll stop there. Also, the final scene is perfectly done and beautifully filmed, but to avoid spoilers, I'll only say that you feel the heartbreak of head-crook Hayden as, no surprise since this is a 1950s movie, his ill-gotten gains, effectively, blow away.

Kubrick cut away almost all the fat in this one as you pretty much strap in from the opening sequence and only get a few chances to catch your breath. There is an oddly out-of-place, occasional documentary-like narrative voice-over that tries to provide additional exposition and framing, but it, unfortunately, is the one awkward note in an otherwise tight and gripping film. Despite that, for a low-budget effort with highly talented-but-not-marquee-name actors, The Killing (odd title) belongs in the top tier of crime-drama movies.


N.B. Had, at some point, devoted husband Elisha Cook Jr. decided to off his harridan wife who was always belittling and cheating on him and, by chance, you noticed Cook burying a body - not saying whose body - late at night, I'd forgive you for looking the other way. Sure, I get the sanctity of life, the Ten Commandments - the morality of it all - but then, I wasn't married to that woman.
My friend, another of those fantastic reviews of your has inspired me to watch another movie, but first I must complete an ongoing quest to watch the entire NCIS and NCIS New Orleans series's . ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Touch of Evil from 1958 with Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Akim Tamiroff and Ray Collins

Somehow, until now, I had never watched this one from beginning to end.

Knowing it is directed by, with a screenplay written by and starring Orson Welles, you anticipate and you get a full-on Orson Welles movie. The pace, as always with Welles directing, is frenetic, which gives the impression that you are seeing important events. The actors deliver their lines as if every word is important. The often-crooked camera angles and stark lighting also argue these are important visuals for you to see. And the way the soundtrack builds to repeated crescendos in many scenes reinforces all this importance.

Okay, that's Welles' style and it definitely draws you in. And the story here is a good one, but unfortunately, nothing more than good. An American contractor who just crossed the border from Mexico into The United States is killed by a car bomb that was planted in Mexico. This brings in the Mexican authorities led by a crusading narcotics officer, Heston, who is in the process of bringing down a notorious and corrupt Mexican cartel family - the Grandis. But American police officer Welles, a local legend for his successful record, claims authority and bullies his way through the investigation with questionable tactics that by-the-book Heston dislikes.

And while Heston is battling with Welles, Heston's young, pretty and new American wife, Leigh, is being harassed and threatened by the Grandis family who is trying to get to her to stop Heston's investigation of their criminal activities.

Effectively, the movie is watching heavy, grizzled, Welles - clearly dealing with a lot of demons including alcohol and women (one in the form of Marlene Dietrich) - try to push Heston out of the way so that he can employ his usual investigative techniques of planting clues and coercing confessions. Simultaneously, Heston tries to conduct a legitimate investigation while also attempting to protect his wife - by moving her from this hotel to that one - from the Grandis.

While Welles is on his game in this one as the dirty, arrogant but falling apart "famous" policeman, Heston seems to struggle to find his character's center as he pings from confident lawman to insecure newbie. This contrast is highlighted by Welles, using a cane owing to a bum leg, always arrogantly pushing forward; whereas, young and healthy Heston struggles in many scenes to even keep his footing. To be fair to Heston, he does have a lot on his plate as he has to deal with an overbearing Welles while his blonde and all-woman-body wife is, effectively, kidnapped by the cartel.

You can see big themes here if you wish: police corruption undermining individual justice, American dominance of Mexico, cartels acting as a threat to legitimate governance and a man willing to do anything to protect his wife's virtue. And given the Welles treatment, you feel like something big is going on. But in the end, it's just a good story about an honest cop fighting both a corrupt cop and a corrupt cartel (and, yes, those stories overlap as the corrupt cop and corrupt cartel make shady deals to help each other).

Welles' dramatic, okay, bombastic style worked best when it was fresh in Citizen Kane. Kane also had the advantage of dealing with a large, dramatic and bombastic theme - the fictionalized life of publishing magnate William Randolph Heart - which aligned perfectly to Welles' style. But here, in Touch of Evil, unfortunately, Welles' over-the-top writing, directing and acting technique promises more than this good, but not great, movie can deliver.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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They Live By Night from 1948 with Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell

Before director Nicholas Ray made the classic Rebel Without a Cause, you can see him playing with some of the same themes from that movie - teenage defiance, societal hypocrisy, institutionalized injustice and young love - in his directorial debut effort, the B-movie noir, They Live By Night.

A young man, Farley Granger, in prison since he was sixteen, breaks out in his early twenties. After getting injured during a subsequent bank robbery he and his partners pull, they hide out in "the mountains" where he meets a poor, cute, seemingly modestly abused (hard to tell) young girl, Cathy O'Donnell. As she nurses him back to health, they fall in love.

Trying to escape everything - their pasts, his record, the police, the adults in their lives, their unhappiness - they take his share of the money from the bank heist and run away. From here, the movie is one of two young adults, with insuperable pasts, trying to make a normal life for themselves. After a sad justice-of-the-peace marriage, they hold up for a time in a one-room cabin where, attempting to create something of a home, they decorate it and try to live like regular people.

But it's not to be as he's a fugitive, so his past - old partners in crime, the police and people looking to turn him in (he's modestly infamous in the papers) - comes calling in one way or another. Hence, his life, and hers by proxy, is one of always being "on the run," never really comfortable in public or, even, private as every knock on the door has a baleful overtone. Since it's a noir in '48, you can all but guess the outcome, but this is a journey movie anyway - a journey to escape a bleak past and present.

And that bleakness implies that neither of these two had a chance in life as he was put into an adult prison at only sixteen and she seems trapped in poverty with no one really caring or looking out for her. Their escape road trip is all but destined to fail, but these two needed some joy, love and hope in their life no matter how fleeting. And as in Rebel Without a Cause, the morality is grey and unsatisfying: are all the adults bad, no, but many are; are the kids always right, no, but you understand their anger; is their love doomed, sure, but you know they have to go for it anyway; is society unjust, yes, but anarchy is not the answer.

Director Ray will revisit these themes, as noted, in Rebel Without a Cause, but you can see him wrestling with them early in this solid, if sometimes plodding, B-noir.

If you do see it, a few other neat things to look out for are one, proof, once again, that there is no honor amongst thieves, two, Ian Wolfe's wonderfully smarmy performance as a huckster justice of the peace and, three, some incredible time-travel shots - cars, clothes, architecture and motor lodges - of 1948 America.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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The Senator was Indiscreet from 1947 with William Powell, Peter Lind Hayes, Ray Collins and Ella Raines
  • William Powell plays a stupid but affably stubborn Senator who all but blackmails his own party into supporting his nomination for President owing to his diary which he implies has dirt on the party

  • The diary then gets stolen and a Keystone Cops type search for it takes place involving Powell's press secretary, a newspaper reporter, the party heads, a few other almost random characters and Powell himself

  • That's pretty much the movie which is supposed to be a witty commentary on politics and Washington, but other than getting in a few good lines, never rises to the challenge it sets for itself

  • There's also some offensive-to-today's-standards stereotyping of Indians and an odd character - a hotel busboy who is clearly and openly a Russian spy, but that thread is never followed

  • The one gem in the movie is Ella Raines as the newspaper reporter who is smart, funny and about the only character who gets the joke, which is that everyone else in the movie is an idiot. I've never understood why this talented and beautiful actress didn't have a better career

  • I wanted to like this one, but found it only okay in spots and boring and silly overall

  • There is a fun closing, surprise cameo, if you stick around for it

N.B. Ms. Raines should have had a bigger career as she had all the talent and looks necessary to be a star.
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Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Blood on the Moon from 1948 with Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan, Phyllis Thaxter, Frank Faylen and Tom Tully

This is no Western for the kiddies. In director Robert Wise's noir-Western mashup, the world is morally complex where men and women have the capacity to do great good and great evil. This is a place where, thank you Thomas Hobbes, the natural state of mankind is shown to be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

If this one isn't a classic, it should be as it quickly pulls you into an ethically ambiguous and challenging world populated by complex humans where right and wrong aren't easy to discern and almost everyone ends up being, as in real life, somewhere in between.

A cattle rancher, Tom Tully, is losing his land owing to a changing government policy forcing him off the Indian reservation he has used for his herd for years, but his efforts to return to his old land bring him up against homesteaders who now claim it for themselves.

Attempting to manipulate this situation for their own enrichment is a corrupt government agent, Frank Faylen, and his partner, Robert Preston, who opportunistically and insincerely back the homesteaders. They intend to buy Tully's herd on the cheap when he has nowhere to take it and, then, to quickly resell the herd to the government at a huge markup.

Mitchum, an old friend of Preston's, is hired by him to both fight on his side and help negotiate the crooked sale. Mitchum goes along, initially, as he's promised a big pay day. However, while he's okay with a little larceny and rough stuff, once he sees the big picture - and that people are getting killed and men wiped out financially if they get in Preston and Faylen's way - he attempts to get out.

Complicating the picture and Mitchum's exit are Tully's daughters whose loyalties are split, with daughter Bel Geddes firmly with her dad while daughter Thaxter is covertly selling her dad out to help her manipulative boyfriend Preston who promises to marry her if he can get rich off this deal. Preston is a consummate noir character as he initially charms both Mitchum and Thaxter (and the audience) into believing his intent might be decent - marriage and to help the homesteaders - while he's later shown to be willing to do anything, and kill anyone, to get his profitable-to-him deal done.

Mitchum, initially on Preston's side, comes up against Bel Geddes, but even as antagonists, their chemistry is palpable. However, when Mitchum tries to break from Preston and even help Tully (Bel Geddes' dad) - he wants to right his wrong of having supported Preston - it takes time for her to believe he's changed, especially, as everyone's hands are a little bit dirty by now.

If Mitchum is the hero here, he's a way-ahead-of-his-time hero as he's no cardboard good guy, but a complex man who makes some bad decisions and isn't opposed to modest cheating. But he also has a moral line he won't cross. Plus, let's not kid ourselves, he wants to hang around to, yes, right a wrong, but also to win over Bel Geddes. Basically, he plays a standard Mitchum noir character just in Western clothes, but it works both here and in his noir roles as he has the nuance and talent to convincingly be morally grey.

From here, the rest of the movie is watching Mitchum trying to stop Preston and Faylen, which results in a brutal bar fight that belongs more in a Tarrantino film than a '50s Western. More battles ensue - the violence is strikingly real and vicious in this movie - until, finally, Mitchum and Bel Geddes are held up with homesteader Walter Brennan in a small house fighting it out with Tully and his remaining men.

Being 1948, unfortunately, the ending is too clean and too nice, but the audience, then and now, will see through that because director Wise serves up a morality tale with no simple solutions. He twists good and bad men this way and that while tossing in a lot of bad faith, some genuine misunderstanding, several turnabouts and much violence. Wise leaves the viewer exhausted but thinking at the end of Blood on the Moon, as, just like in real life, he shows us that there rarely are any easy answers.

N.B., Barbara Bel Geddes - a slip of youth and cuteness here - might have broken Hollywood's land-speed record for going from hottie to middle-aged matron as, just ten years later, she'll play the spinster friend pining for greying and in-his-fifties Jimmy Steward in Vertigo (and she won't get him).

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Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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A Letter to Three Wives from 1949 with Linda Darnell, Ann Southern, Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas and Jeanne Crain
  • A letter from the town's siren sent to three wives as they start a day boat trip informs them that she has left town with one of their husbands - holy cow!

  • While "trapped" on the boat and through flashbacks, we see why each woman thinks her husband could be the one
    • One women is a successful writer married to a school teacher where her financial success undermines their marriage and his manhood - sometimes his fault / sometimes hers
    • Another is married to the handsome, wealthy "catch," but as she's just a plain farm girl he met and married during the war, she thinks he regrets his spontaneous decision
    • The third is a "wrong side of the tracks" pretty young woman who married the middle-aged wealthy businessman in a marriage that began based on a transaction - my youth for your money - not love

  • It's as contrived as could be, but it works as the three marriages are brought to life - you can see any of these husbands being the one who left

  • The themes of class, love and money in small towns and within marriages are smartly explored

  • I enjoy this one more each time I see it

  • N.B. As she always does, Thelma Ritter brings depth and dimension to her performance as a maid who does not fade into the background - she's an acting talent


TURN-BACK-THE-CLOCK-Original-Movie-Still-8x10.jpg

Turn Back the Clock from 1933 with Lee Tracy, Mae Clarke and Otto Kruger

  • An early Sliding Doors or alternative-timeline story

  • A just-getting-by cigar-store owner, Tracy, married to a good woman, Clarke, whom, twenty years ago, he chose over the town's wealthy girl has an accident that propels him back in time where he gets to do his life over, but this time, with the knowledge of how his original choices turned out

  • Watching Tracy make different decision with his second chance had to feel fresh in 1933

  • Unfortunately, Tracy, a stage-trained actor, had yet to adjust to movie acting, so he over gestures and exaggeratedly projects as many stage actors did on film at that time

  • In the end, the movie boils down to the question of marrying for true love versus for money

  • It's clunky, but interesting enough for a 78 minute effort
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 49902
A Letter to Three Wives from 1949 with Linda Darnell, Ann Southern, Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas and Jeanne Crain
  • A letter from the town's siren sent to three wives as they start a day boat trip informs them that she has left town with one of their husbands - holy cow!

  • While "trapped" on the boat and through flashbacks, we see why each woman thinks her husband could be the one
    • One women is a successful writer married to a school teacher where her financial success undermines their marriage and his manhood - sometimes his fault / sometimes hers
    • Another is married to the handsome, wealthy "catch," but as she's just a plain farm girl he met and married during the war, she thinks he regrets his spontaneous decision
    • The third is a "wrong side of the tracks" pretty young woman who married the middle-aged wealthy businessman in a marriage that began based on a transaction - my youth for your money - not love

  • It's as contrived as could be, but it works as the three marriages are brought to life - you can see any of these husbands being the one who left

  • The themes of class, love and money in small towns and within marriages are smartly explored

  • I enjoy this one more each time I see it

  • N.B. As she always does, Thelma Ritter brings depth and dimension to her performance as a maid who does not fade into the background - she's an acting talent


View attachment 49903
Turn Back the Clock from 1933 with Lee Tracy, Mae Clarke and Otto Kruger

  • An early Sliding Doors or alternative-timeline story

  • A just-getting-by cigar-store owner, Tracy, married to a good woman, Clarke, whom, twenty years ago, he chose over the town's wealthy girl has an accident that propels him back in time where he gets to do his life over, but this time, with the knowledge of how his original choices turned out

  • Watching Tracy make different decision with his second chance had to feel fresh in 1933

  • Unfortunately, Tracy, a stage-trained actor, had yet to adjust to movie acting, so he over gestures and exaggeratedly projects as many stage actors did on film at that time

  • In the end, the movie boils down to the question of marrying for true love versus for money

  • It's clunky, but interesting enough for a 78 minute effort
Ok! That's one more added to my ever growing list of movies to be watched. On Amazon the movie has 4.7 out of 5 stars. Once again thanks. ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
wickedwoman3.jpg

Wicked Woman from 1953 with Beverly Michaels, Richard Egan and Percy Helton

What comes after the letter B, oh, yes, C. So, maybe this is a C movie - much closer in story and production quality to a 1950s hour-long TV drama than a major motion picture. But if you accept its limitations in, well, story, budget and acting talent, it's deliciously fun in an almost campy way.

A "wicked woman," Beverly Michaels, a drifter with looks and no morality comes to town, takes a room in a boarding house (with a super-creepy neighbor, Helton) and gets a job as a waitress in a cocktail bar. At work, she immediately begins hitting on the husband (Egan) part of the husband-and-wife bar-ownership team, while plying the alcoholic wife with booze.

Tall, lean in a gangly all-arms-and-legs way, but with a large chest and white-blonde hair, Beverly Michaels looks like a stretched-out Marilyn Monroe. With her somnolent acting style and as the film's lead, she doesn't so much carry the movie, but instead, drags it along like a little kid does with a baby blanket. However, you can't deny that all five feet and nine inches of her captures your attention. (And I'll take the over on 5'9".)

Michael's plan - more opportunistic happenstance as she doesn't think meaningfully far into the future - is to get Egan, they are now having an affair, to sell the bar out from under his wife and take her (Michaels) to Mexico for a long vacation. Okay, not everyone dreams as big as you'd think.

While this is in motion, Michaels uses her creepy neighbor, gnome-like Percy Helton, for favors and money by stringing him along with the promise of a date. However, just as Egan and she are about to complete the fraudulent sale of the bar - Michaels has to pretend to be the wife at the closing to fake her signature - Helton has had enough being put off and tries to blackmail Michael for sex with the information he's learned about her corrupt plan. Watching an older, overly short, fat, balding man try to come on sexually to a young, overly tall, comely blonde has an awful creep and ick factor that you'll struggle to wipe from your memory.

From here, as you expect in a noir film, things unravel quickly, but surprisingly, the justice meted out is incredibly tame. Effectively, everybody gets sent home for a do-over. Along the way, though, look for two quirks of the era.

One, Michaels has an ongoing morning battle to beat another woman to the boarding house's bathroom leading to a funny scene where Michaels wins an impromptu footrace and, then, tweaks her defeated adversary. Two, there's a poorly explained scene where Michaels is seen giving some of her tip money to a man described as an "employment" man, but, I guess, he's a mob guy collecting "protection" money. Boarding-house wars and the rackets - you can't get more '50s or more film noir than that.

Wicked Woman is a not-good movie that is still enjoyable in a campy way because of awkwardly tall and sleepy, but appealing, Michaels, an embarrassingly cheap budget and unapologetically immoral characters. There are worse ways to spend an hour.
 
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