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The Gay Bride from 1934 with Carole Lombard, Chester Morris, Zasu Pitts and Ned Pendleton
  • A quirky '30s romcom about a gold-digging woman, Lombard, marrying or trying to marry several mob men for their money while sparring with a mob factotum, "office boy," Morris, who sees completely through her act, but falls for her anyway

  • Morris does work for the mob, but only on legitimate business (it's that type of movie, so you just go with it) as he's staying clean while saving up to buy a gas station so that he can get out and lead a normal life

  • Lombard, initially, laughs at Morris and his "small life" ambition as she wants money and possessions (and, literally, steals from her mob boyfriends and husbands to get them)

  • But as riches come and go for her (mob money is tenuous), she begins to see the limitations of "stuff," the downside of being with men you don't care for and the appeal of an honest man - Morris

  • It's pretty predictable, and the mob stuff - and body count - is treated pretty callously here, but for a '30s romcom, they keep the screwball comedy to a minimum

  • Morris and Lombard have real chemistry with, surprisingly, Morris stealing several scenes from Lombard as she comes off shrilly at times, while he's in the enviable role of being the only person in the room with both integrity and who gets the joke

  • It's nothing more than a hour-and-twenty-minute romcom, but Morris and Lombard make it work


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The Joker from 2019 with Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz
  • Outstanding performance by Joaquin Phoenix

  • Because of the incredible hype, I found I liked this very good movie less than I thought I would / also, good as it is, it's depressing as heck

  • You can see it as an alternative Joker-origin story in the Batman oeuvre or, more as I did, a story about an isolated, lonely, broken and mentally ill man slowly being broken further by a society with limited resources that hasn't figured out how to consistently help people like him

  • As with most movies today, the visuals are incredible, which, in this case, includes a pretty-accurate time capsule of NYC in the '70s - meaning much garbage, graffiti and disorder - just as it was when I first started coming to the city as a kid
 

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Born to Kill from 1947 with Claire Trever, Lawrence Tierney, Elisha Cook Jr. and Walter Slezak

A handsome sociopath, a man who kills at the smallest provocation, manages to worm his way into the life of a wealthy society family in San Francisco.

Tierney, the sociopath, is chilling as a cold blooded killer whose hair-trigger anger at even small slights can cause him to take a life. The real mystery is how this man made it to middle age without being caught by the police or killed by somebody.

He is aided by a sycophant sidekick, Elisha Cook Jr, whose slavish devotion to Tierney has him covering up Tierney's murders. No explanation for Cook's loyalty is given, but my wild guess is that, in the novel the movie is based on, something homosexual is going on or implied. Nobody is that devoted to someone who treats him as horribly as Tierney does Cook, without something more than a warped friendship driving the relationship.

Clair Trevor, the poor relative of the wealthy San Francisco family, provides Tierney's entry to the family and society as she is infatuated with him despite knowing he is a killer. She stumbled upon two of Tierney's victims early on and, even though she hardly knew him at that point, somewhat covered up for him anyway, which immediately makes us question her mental stability.

But this is Trevor's movie, as she owns it, drives it, centers it and saves it as her anger issues and emotional baggage are slowly revealed. She greatly resents being the poor relative, but hides her resentment from everyone but, eventually, Tierney. In some perverse way, she is attracted to Tierney, yes, sexually, but also because he is someone more willing than she is to show his anger to the world.

In classic noir fashion, these are two people whose worst instincts destroy all the opportunity and good that does come into their lives. Trevor is engaged to a decent society man, but risks it all by (implied, but we get it) having an affair with Tierney. Worse, Tierney - a human wrecking ball - begins courting Trever's wealthy half sister, which infuriates Trevor who employs a crazy "I can cheat, but you can't" kind of logic.

From here, the story ramps up as Tierney marries the half sister while Trevor and he continue to canoodle behind everyone's back. Meanwhile, a private investigator, Walter Slezak, shows up to investigate an earlier Tierney murder. At this point, you know it's all going to come crashing down; the fun is seeing it happen.

Despite Cook Jr's best efforts to protect his friend Tierney, Slezak - in a pitch-perfect role as a greedy but effective investigator - slowly tightens the noose around Tierney. Simultaneously, Trevor bounces back and forth between protecting Tierney and hurting him because he married her sister. Meanwhile, psychotic Tierney simply plows ahead by forcing his will on everyone while having intense spasms of anger at the slightest pushback.

Finally, Tierney takes one too many chances that neither Cook nor Trevor can cover up. It ends how most noirs end, with a reasonably large body count and the bad guys not winning, but somehow, it doesn't feel as if right and justice won either. Instead, you're left believing the world is a bit uglier, greedier and unjust than you thought it was before.
 

Fading Fast

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Between COVID19, the messed up football season, and politics, I confess that a Hallmark Christmas movie can be a nice diversion.
I've gotten sucked into a few of those each season as well. I'm not proud of it, but sometimes it's nice to get away from the real world. Normally, I just run it as background as they are a little hard to just sit and watch.
 

TKI67

Super Member
I've gotten sucked into a few of those each season as well. I'm not proud of it, but sometimes it's nice to get away from the real world. Normally, I just run it as background as they are a little hard to just sit and watch.
Most are truly horrid as movies, but every now and then they have their moments. I like the one with Henry Winkler as the retired cop uncle. Also the one with Mira Sorvino suffering from amnesia.

When we need full strength escapism, nothing beats period pieces like the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, Gosford Park, or A Little Chaos. Also good for escapism are Waking Ned Devine, The Secret of Roan Inish, Enchanted April, Room With A View, and any of the new-ish Oscar Wilde's (A Good Woman, The Importance of Being Earnest, and An Ideal Husband).
 
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The Solitaire Man from 1933 with Herbert Marshall, Elizabeth Allen and May Robson
  • Based on a play, the plot is complex, contrived and engaging as The Solitaire Man, Marshall, is a jewel thief (a popular 1930s career) about to marry his pretty, young accomplice, Allan, and retire, but owing to an underling's mistake, he has to execute one last break in to, in this case, return jewelry to get the police off his tracks

  • But that effort goes awry as another thief is there, which, in the dark, leads to gunfire resulting in a dead police inspector and too many clues

  • After that, it's to the heart and soul of the movie: a plane flight for the "gang" out of France to England with a, maybe-maybe-not, police inspector also on the flight trying to arrest Marshall

  • The flight is all "you're guilty, no I'm not, here's evidence, no it isn't, I have the pilfered necklace, no you have it (everyone checks pockets, again), you're not a real inspector, yes I am, turn this plane around, land it here, radio the police to meet the plane, I have your gun, I have the bullets" and on and on

  • It's fun in a witty, smartly-engineered way with complex characters and a bunch of plot twists and turns all in rapid-fire succession - not believable, but entertaining

  • And there's also pre-code fun:
    • The young female thief (Allan), upon being proposed to by Marshall says, "you want to marry me, but why? You don't have to you know" (i.e., we can keep on just having sex and living together).
    • Another thief's drug addiction is openly discussed
    • The bad guys don't all lose in the end

  • Finally, it's great time travel to the '30s - clothes, cars, architecture and the aforementioned early-in-aviation-history plane flight

N.B., It's a shame talented and pretty actress Elizabeth Allan, whose vivacious and smart personality all but jumps off the screen, didn't have more of a career.
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TKI67

Super Member
Another wonderful escapist type movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Ciaran Hinds, Lee Pace, Mark Strong, and more. A feel good adult version of Victor/Victoria and Mary Poppins at the beginning of World War II.
 
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In a Lonely Place from 1950 with Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Art Smith and Jeff Donnell

This outstanding movie plays around with the usual noir element to create a romance, wrapped around a murder mystery all inside a character study. And it's Bogart as a temperamental, violent and insecure screenwriter accused of murdering a young girl he met one night who provides the character to be studied.

The romance comes from his nearby neighbor and his alibi to the murder, Gloria Grahame. While Bogart is broken in many obvious ways - hair trigger temper leading to fist fights, arrogant, rigid and self-destructive opinions and a manic-depressive personality - Grahame is broken in a quiet, but almost, just as disturbing way.

These two meet the night after the murder in question as Bogart remembers his neighbor, Grahame, saw him through a window in his apartment at the time the girl in question was murdered in the nearby woods. After confirming Bogart's story to the police, Grahame and Bogie begin a love affair that, initially, produces an upbeat manic phase in Bogart.

Bogart starts writing again, sparking joy in his woebegone agent, wonderfully played by Art Smith. He also is able to socialize without fighting owing to Grahame's presence and influence. But with the police, including a former army buddy of Bogart's who's now a detective, Frank Lovejoy, still suspicious of Bogart, the pressure of being a suspect begins to bring out the worst in Bogie.

His paranoia resurfaces exposing Grahame, for the first time, to his temper, violence, condescension and irrational jealousy. From here, the movie is watching Bogart ping back and forth between being a nice guy in love to an angry man fighting the world, which ricochets Grahame's emotions all over the place as she realizes she's in love with a volatile and dangerous man.

And we learn, by innuendo, that Graham has a history with dangerous men, which explains why she doesn't immediately get out - as most normal people would - once she sees Bogart's violent side. Even Bogie's long-suffering friend and agent, Smith, admits to Graham that you have to just put up with all of Bogart's ways if you want to be in Bogart's world.

In the end, and trying to avoid giving the climax and conclusion away, the story comes down to whether two broken people can somehow help fix each other, despite first smashing everything and each other up. Of course, that will only even be possible if Bogart is actually innocent of the murder that hangs over his head throughout.

Director Nicholaus Ray, most famous for Rebel Without a Cause, serves up another outstanding tale of alienated, unstable people whose struggle to adjust to the world is stressed by hounding police and chaffing societal rules. It's a good twist on the basic noir structure, especially as much of the darkness in this one takes place in the, not typical to noir, daytime. Also, it's fun to see Grahame, in possibly her best role, matching Bogart scene for scene.


N.B. Look for the wonderfully named actress Jeff Donnell as the wife of Bogart's detective friend and a confidant to Grahame. Those two are a fun physical contrast as Grahame's beautify announces itself almost before she enters the room; whereas, Donnell's takes time to wash over you.

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Yes, God, Yes from 2019 with Natalia Dyer and Timothy Simons
  • A short (78 minutes) film about a Midwest Catholic teenage girl, Dyer, who attends a religious school that teaches sexual abstinence until marriage and eternal damnation for unrepentant sinners

  • Set in the early '00s, Dyer's aborning sexuality and interest in masturbation is sparked by an anonymous on-line chat, but her urges and self-restraint are tested when she attends a weekend religious retreat that, also, emphasizes abstinence

  • At the retreat, she sees hypocrisy everywhere as teenage group leaders preach chastity in public, but engage in fellatio in private, while she, also, sees the priest who runs the retreat masturbating to on-line porn

  • Confused and dispirited, she leaves the retreat and wanders into a lesbian bar (hey, it's a movie) where an older woman - a former '60s flower child - tells her to drop her religious beliefs and go to a college on one of the coasts to escape her religious oppression

  • So, effectively, this is an anti-religion, anti-Midwest message movie that presents a awful view of Christianity while singing the hallelujahs of the 1960s sexual revolution

  • As an agnostic with a casual attitude toward sex, I found the movie condescending and insulting to views I don't share, but respect that others sincerely do as those views were presented here in the worst, most-cliched and biased way possible: this movie is a perfect instantiation of one of the divides between the coasts and middle of the country

  • That said, the movie does, at times, present teenage sexual desire and confusion in a thoughtful manner

  • And kudos to star Dyer for her nuanced performance as a young girl trying to understand her body and the conflicting messages she's receiving from her parents, the religious school and the broader culture
 

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The Country Girl from 1954 with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and William Holden

This outstanding movie about success, failure, alcoholism, marriage and the randomness of luck deserves more attention today than it gets.

Crosby is an up-and-coming crooner married to pretty Grace Kelly. They have a young son and all is going well in their happy life. Then, one day, while the boy is with him, Crosby momentarily lets go of his son's hand and, seconds later, the boy is killed in a traffic accident.

Ten years later, the couple is living in a dilapidated one-room tenement apartment. Kelly is weary looking having, we discover, spent the past decade nursing Crosby through his alcoholism, anger, lack of confidence and failing career. One unlucky and maybe irresponsible moment has wrecked his success and wrecked both of their lives.

All this we learn early through flashbacks, which explains why Crosby needs to be triumphant in a surprising chance he's now getting to star in a new play. If he can hold himself together - far from a given - this opportunity could be his comeback. However, a career rebirth is tenuous because, even though the play's young, hard-charging director, Holden, believes in Crosby, the producer (the guy putting up the money) has serious doubts about him as opening night approaches.

And while Crosby presents a genial and confident front publicly and to Holden, he viciously dumps all his insecurities and anger onto wife Kelly in private, leaving her to address his long list of complaints about the part and how he's being treated to Holden.

As a result, Holden sees Kelly as a negative influence and meddler that is hurting Cosby and the play. Crosby is so good at presenting himself pleasantly in public - he is a cunning alcoholic who regularly fools those around him - and Kelly is so enervated and dour from Crosby's abuse that, from Holden's point of view, you understand why he mistakenly thinks Kelly is the problem.

And that leads to several of the movie's money scenes and moments as Kelly and Holden, with antipathy having built to a boil, let loose on each other as he denounces her as a shrew destroying her husband. Kelly, in response, finally, angrily breaks down and venomously tells Holden the truth about Crosby, which Holden doesn't initially believe.

After a few insanely well-acted rounds of that battle take place, a drunk Crosby, unintentionally, reveals himself to Holden, who now has the horrible realization that he's unfairly beaten up on Kelly. Also, Holden now sees that he has risked his play and reputation on the weak shoulders of a drunken shell of a man.

It's here where we get to the crux of Crosby's self destruction. In a crushing but very real admission to Holden and Kelly (Kelly had already guessed it), Crosby, who was always insecure, even during his early success, latched on to the tragic death of his son to "fail with a forgivable excuse." He found comfort in an acceptable failure - a failure that people would forgive - versus the fear that his career would decline or worse on its own. That is a powerful reveal of a human insecurity that few movies have tackled as well as The Country Girl.

With that out in the open and the play soon to premiere in New York, Kelly and Holden now team up to nurse Crosby and the play to success. But their shared goal and forced proximity spark a palpable sexual tension between them - plus, they are the two best-looking people in the movie. So, it's no real surprise that Kelly, having become nothing more than a mother to Crosby, and Holden fall for each other as their once intense hatred turns to passion, which turns to, maybe, love.

But the play comes first as the movie races to its conclusion: the show's New York City opening. Will Crosby deliver a star performance in the demanding leading role, thus, propelling the play to success and reviving his career? Will Kelly stay with Crosby or leave him for Holden? The Country Girl might not give you the ending you want - you'll want to see it for yourself - but kudos to director George Seaton for his skillful and poignant closing scene.

Why this powerful mashup of The Lost Weekend and All About Eve - with a much-deserved Best Actress Oscar going to Grace Kelly - doesn't get more notice today is hard to understand. Yes, it's heavy, but so is The Lost Weekend. Maybe it's due for a moment of new attention, but whether that moment comes or not, it's still an impressive movie that explores the brutal decline of a man and a marriage with unvarnished insight and moving sensitivity.
 

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Personal Property from 1937 with Robert Taylor, Jean Harlow, Reginald Owen and Una O'Connor

They call them screwball comedies, but many, such as Personal Property, are more like romcoms as there isn't much screwball-ness going on, but plenty of silly romcom-ness. And, as in many romcoms, then and now, the plot is forced but kinda okay when you watch it; however, it sounds ridiculous when you describe it.

So here goes: Robert Taylor plays a just-out-of-prison black-sheep son of a respectable and wealthy British family who stumbles into a job as a repo man. He then ends up living with, for the weekend - by law to keep an eye on her property - behind-on-her-furniture-payments Jean Harlow. And Harlow - get ready for it - is engaged to Taylor's stuffy older brother. She's trying to keep up the appearance that she's a well-to-do young widow, hence, the furniture that she can't afford. Of course, initially, Taylor and Harlow do not know that they share a connection via his family.

Have I lost you yet? There's more as Taylor and Harlow begin developing feelings for each other after the initial romcom period when she, naturally, dislikes him, but really, is intrigued by him. She then asks him to act as a butler for a dinner she's hosting for her fiancé's (Taylor's brother's) family because she'd be embarrassed and the brother would break the engagement if he knew she was in hock and had a repo man living in her house. With Taylor and Harlow still oblivious to their connection via his family, he agrees to be the butler.

And all this crazy culminates in the dinner itself when his family, of course, immediately recognizes who Taylor is, but keeps quiet about it as they don't want to be embarrassed by admitting he's their son (an ex-con presently working as a repo man).

Taylor, now fully smitten with Harlow, tries to undermine his brother at the dinner with smart barbs and silly pranks, such as spilling food. Meanwhile, Harlow, having doubts about marrying for money now that she's falling for Taylor, begins to see her tiresome fiancé for who he is. The rest you can probably guess as it plays out per romcom rules.

Believe it or not, this insanely silly story sort of works okay in the movie as Harlow and Taylor banter and fall in love in a fun way while the eccentricities of the British upper class, real or cliched, are milked for all they are worth. In particular, one of the dinner guests is a middle-aged man who speaks with such exaggerated "poshness" (long vowels, clipped phrases) that the Americans have no idea what he is saying while the Brits respond as if they do. It's pushed too far, but it is still pretty funny.

And that is the movie - everything is pushed too far, but, mostly, it's still okay. I wouldn't seek it out, but if it happens to be on - and you like Harlow and Taylor - it's a modestly entertaining way to spend just over an hour.


N.B. How neat is this picture I found of Harlow and Taylor on the promotional tour for this movie:
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Mr. & Mrs. Smith from 1941 with Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery and Gene Raymond

This is probably the third or fourth time I've seen this movie in the past four decades and I always want to like it more than I do. I like the principal actors, they spent money making it, the story's outline is silly but okay and the time travel to New York City - including a trip to the 1939 World's Fair - is outstanding; however, I find the movie too forced and screwball to really enjoy. Plus, none of the characters are really likeable.

The Smiths, Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery, are a young married-for-three-years couple who have epic fights with equally epic makeups. During one battle royal, she asks if he could go back in time, would he marry her again and he says no - ouch, but it's how they fight.

However, right after that latest battle-and-makeup event, Montgomery and Lombard learn, separately, that, owing to a technicality in the town where they were wed, their marriage was never legal, so, away from common law, they are not married.

While Montgomery has every intention of making things right, when he doesn't immediately propose marriage again to Lombard, she goes ballistic (it's what they do) and, amidst broken dishes and screams, throws him out of their apartment.

Montgomery seems genuinely surprised as he tells her multiple times that he wants to marry her again. However, drama-queen Lombard, still smarting from his "no" comment from several days ago, begins using her maiden name while starting to date men, including, just to rub it in, Montgomery's friend and law partner.

From here, the movie is all Montgomery trying to convince Lombard to marry him again, while she rejects all his offers, even though you know - and she knows - she wants to say yes, but is too prideful to admit it. All this happens amidst silly scenes like one in a restaurant where Montgomery shows up with a date to make Lombard, whom he knew would be there on a date herself, jealous or at a ski lodge where he feigns illness to arouse her sympathy.

Throw into the mix, the aforementioned law partner and his judgmental family, a bunch of screwball scenes with elevator operators and doormen and the movie stumbles to its inevitable conclusion.

Maybe the problem with the movie is that none of the characters are likeable, except Montgomery sometimes, and his and Lombard's marriage is so unappealing that you're not rooting for the thing you're supposed to be rooting for: to see the Smiths get back together.

In five to ten years, I'll have kinda forgotten why I don't enjoy this movie and I will try it again, only to be disappointed again. Sadly, it seems to be what I do with this one.
 

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Breakfast for Two from 1937 with Barbara Stanwyck, Herbert Marshall, Glenda Farrel and Eric Blore
  • This is what happens to a pre-code-like movie idea when it gets mangled by the Motion Picture Production Code

  • Stanwyck plays a smart, young, wealthy woman with a head for business who falls in love with party boy and shipping-heir Marshall whose neglect of his company is destroying it

  • Once Stanwyck sees the full picture, she buys Marshall's company to both save it and to save Marshall by bringing him in as her vice-president as she believes he's "got what it takes" if he just gets a push in the right direction

  • In pre-code land, Stanwyck could have tutored Marshall to become a businessman or, more likely, she'd have realized he was better as a boy toy and she'd have just run the darn company herself and "kept" Marshall, kinda like Kay Francis did with David Manners in 1932's Man Wanted or as Ruth Chatterton did with a series of young, handsome "executives" in 1933's Female

  • But by 1937, the code wouldn't allow a smart women to run a company and keep a silly man around for pleasure, so all sorts of stupid and unbelievable things happen like Stanwyck allowing the company to fail and Marshall, magically now seeing the light, but with no business experience, convincing investors to back him as the man to bring it out of receivership

  • Also in dumb land, Marshal tries to marry his friend Glenda Farrell to spite Stanwyck, even though he obviously loves her, which leads to a bunch of screwball things happening to both thwart that wedding (loud window washers, a long-winded minister) and push Stanwyck and Marshall together (a food fight and a serious of phone-call misunderstandings)

  • A screwball scene or two can occasionally work (see Bringing up Baby), but string several together and you end up with a Three-Stooges routine, which is fine for a Three-Stooges movie, but makes no sense in a reasonably adult romcom

  • Stanwyck is such an enjoyable actress that this one is almost worth it, but the code so brutalized the plot's logic and characters' consistency and maturity that passing is probably the right choice
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
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Breakfast for Two from 1937 with Barbara Stanwyck, Herbert Marshall, Glenda Farrel and Eric Blore
  • This is what happens to a pre-code-like movie idea when it gets mangled by the Motion Picture Production Code

  • Stanwyck plays a smart, young, wealthy woman with a head for business who falls in love with party boy and shipping-heir Marshall whose neglect of his company is destroying it

  • Once Stanwyck sees the full picture, she buys Marshall's company to both save it and to save Marshall by bringing him in as her vice-president as she believes he's "got what it takes" if he just gets a push in the right direction

  • In pre-code land, Stanwyck could have tutored Marshall to become a businessman or, more likely, she'd have realized he was better as a boy toy and she'd have just run the darn company herself and "kept" Marshall, kinda like Kay Francis did with David Manners in 1932's Man Wanted or as Ruth Chatterton did with a series of young, handsome "executives" in 1933's Female

  • But by 1937, the code wouldn't allow a smart women to run a company and keep a silly man around for pleasure, so all sorts of stupid and unbelievable things happen like Stanwyck allowing the company to fail and Marshall, magically now seeing the light, but with no business experience, convincing investors to back him as the man to bring it out of receivership

  • Also in dumb land, Marshal tries to marry his friend Glenda Farrell to spite Stanwyck, even though he obviously loves her, which leads to a bunch of screwball things happening to both thwart that wedding (loud window washers, a long-winded minister) and push Stanwyck and Marshall together (a food fight and a serious of phone-call misunderstandings)

  • A screwball scene or two can occasionally work (see Bringing up Baby), but string several together and you end up with a Three-Stooges routine, which is fine for a Three-Stooges movie, but makes no sense in a reasonably adult romcom

  • Stanwyck is such an enjoyable actress that this one is almost worth it, but the code so brutalized the plot's logic and characters' consistency and maturity that passing is probably the right choice
Point taken...it is crossed off my list. Thank you! ;)
 

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Kept Husbands from 1931 with Joel McCrea and Dorothy Mackaill

It's an early and clunky talkie, in need of a restoration, that feels more like a play than a movie, as many of those first talkies did. But it is an early effort at a theme movies will return to again and again: what happens when a woman has or makes much, much more money than the man in a marriage.

McCrea plays the young poor man working for a large construction company as a kind of low-level manager who meets Mackaill, the boss' spoiled society daughter. Mackaill then takes a hard run at McCrea seemingly because she wants something other than the society boys she's used to, plus he's handsome as heck.

In usual movie sloppiness, despite McCrea telling her they'd have to live on his salary, they never really come to an agreement, but marry anyway. From the honeymoon on, her dad spoils them with money, possessions and a cushy executive job for McCrea.

Mackaill is happy to have her fancy life and her handsome husband whom she plans to make into an acceptable-to-society gentleman. And no, the illogic of marrying someone because he isn't a society gentleman only to, then, go about making him into one is never explored.

McCrea, in the first throes of love, pretty much goes along with it all even though he doesn't like, effectively, being a kept husband. But it all comes to a climax when McCrea gets an opportunity at work to take on an important project that will require him to go to another city for several weeks.

While he assumes Mackaill will go with him, when he asks her, she has a temper tantrum haranguing him for disrupting her plans during the "social season" and dismisses his work as unimportant as, in a vicious blow, she tells him her father pays all their bills anyway. Throw into the mix some confusions as to whether Mackaill is having an affair and this aborning marriage is in heavy wobble.

From here it comes down to the usual questions: will Mackaill see the error of her ways and will McCrea put his ego aside to make room for forgiveness. It's pretty standard fare with few surprises, but it is kinda fun - if you can take the early-talkie bumpiness - to see a poor-boy-rich-girl marriage explored early in Hollywood history.


N.B., In a scene that could have come right out of an Ayn Rand novel, ten years before Ayn Rand became a household name with the publication of her breakthrough novel "The Fountainhead," McCrea gives a Randian speech about individual, ground-breaking creators having to push their innovative ideas - in this case, a radically new bridge design - past hidebound and unimaginative committees. Howard Roark, Rand's genius and individualist architect, would have been proud.
 

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Lost in Yonkers from 1993 with Richard Dreyfuss, Mercedes Ruehl and Irene Worth, written by Neil Simon
  • It starts out as a Woody-Allen-like stylized period movie that gets much darker by the second half

  • In WWII, a widower dad, in order to earn a living to pay off his now-deceased wife's medical bills, has to leave his two young boys with their strict and emotional-distant (think scary) grandmother who owns a small candy shop in Yonkers

  • At home is also the grandmother's mentally challenged adult daughter and, for a time, her other son, a bagman of sorts for the mob

  • Seen through the eyes of the two boys, the crazy of this house forces them to grow up quickly as this is no tough-exterior-heart-of-gold grandmother, but a damaged woman (it is alluded to that she's had great hardship in her life) incapable of showing warmth, but having no issue with petty meanness

  • Additionally, the boys see the excruciatingly heartbreaking challenge the daughter has trying to find love and an adult life with her limitations, while also seeing the downside to their "cool" uncle who, effectively, is now on the run from the mob

  • It's a pretty tough "coming of age" movie that ends without much resolution, as one of its point is that, despite its hardships and challenges, life goes on

  • It's also one of those movies that you respect for what it did (and its beautiful period details), but unless feeling worse about the world is your thing, you might be glad when it is over
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 51443
Lost in Yonkers from 1993 with Richard Dreyfuss, Mercedes Ruehl and Irene Worth, written by Neil Simon
  • It starts out as a Woody-Allen-like stylized period movie that gets much darker by the second half

  • In WWII, a widower dad, in order to earn a living to pay off his now-deceased wife's medical bills, has to leave his two young boys with their strict and emotional-distant (think scary) grandmother who owns a small candy shop in Yonkers

  • At home is also the grandmother's mentally challenged adult daughter and, for a time, her other son, a bagman of sorts for the mob

  • Seen through the eyes of the two boys, the crazy of this house forces them to grow up quickly as this is no tough-exterior-heart-of-gold grandmother, but a damaged woman (it is alluded to that she's had great hardship in her life) incapable of showing warmth, but having no issue with petty meanness

  • Additionally, the boys see the excruciatingly heartbreaking challenge the daughter has trying to find love and an adult life with her limitations, while also seeing the downside to their "cool" uncle who, effectively, is now on the run from the mob

  • It's a pretty tough "coming of age" movie that ends without much resolution, as one of its point is that, despite its hardships and challenges, life goes on

  • It's also one of those movies that you respect for what it did (and its beautiful period details), but unless feeling worse about the world is your thing, you might be glad when it is over
As always, well done. Lost In Yonkers is on my must watch list! Thanks for the review. ;)
 

John M

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
So I recently re-watched two movies. The first is a cheap Charles Bronson action flick called Murphy's Law. It's not great but it could certainly be worse. My late grandmother LOVED Charles Bronson, so I guess that's where some of my appreciation of him comes from.

The second is an 80s comedy classic featuring the late Rodney Dangerfield with Back to School. I think the best scenes are Rodney with the business teacher.

 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Women Wanted from 1935 with Joel McCrea and Maureen O'Sullivan

Once a movie is successful, Hollywood keeps trying to make the same movie until the public says "enough." With the outsized success of It Happened One Night in 1934, Hollywood spent the following several years making "road-trip" style movies where a not-married couple of two young and good-looking people, usually being chased by the police (but, most of the time, they are innocent), run around (usually the countryside) trying to prove his or her (or both of their) innocence.

It's not a bad formula at all as, in a day when casual sex was, in theory, a big no-no, you had a not-married couple having to navigate sleeping arrangements while on the lam. Heck, when not-married Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert shared a cabin (with a blanket hung between their twin beds) in It Happened One Night and Gable took off his dress shirt which revealed he wasn't wearing a T-shirt, T-shirt sales declined nationally. These movies were about more than the story.

Women Wanted is a modest entry in this category. Ridiculously pretty Maureen O'Sullivan is convicted of murder (but we kinda know she's innocent), escapes (almost by accident) and teams up (by accident) with wealthy playboy and lawyer Joel McCrea. As noted, and as can be seen by all the "accidental" stuff that drives the action, the stories in these movies exist to put two attractive people of the opposite sex as close together as possible. And as a related side note, it's a shame Superman hadn't been invented five years earlier as, at this moment in his career, McCrea looks more like Superman than Superman does himself.

So now we have handsome McCrea - tentatively engaged to a bitchy society woman - and pretty O'Sullivan teamed up and running from the law while trying to prove her innocence. Since O'Sullivan was set up to be the fall guy (girl) for the mob - that's how she was convicted in the first place - not only are the police after her, but the mob is too. What follows is a fun little romp where McCrea and Sullivan run around New York City and parts of its more rural surroundings with cops and mobsters chasing them.

For these movies to really work, the leads need to have chemistry, which McCrea and O'Sullivan do, but mainly owing to O'Sullivan who owns scene after scene with her verve, super cuteness and perfect comedic timing. She makes it her movie and she propels it forward.

At one point, when McCrea's uppity fiancé, angry that McCrea has been ignoring her for another woman, sees O'Sullivan, she tells McCrea over the phone, but with O'Sullivan standing next to her that, "if she [O'Sullivan] wasn't so cheaply pretty, you wouldn't [be with her]." O'Sullivan, instead of doing a standard snarl at being insulted, gives a look of, first, surprise and, then, nonchalance that says your putdown meant nothing to me. It made an average moment outstanding.

Basically, everything that you expect to happen, happens. The mob captures them, but they escape; the police get close, but they escape; they come up empty, at first, trying to find exculpatory evidence, but carry on. And all this happens amidst plenty of gunfights, car and boat chases and general running hither and yon with plenty of opportunities for McCrea and O'Sullivan to get close, kiss and fall asleep on each other. It's a fun-enough effort for a copycat movie made much, much better by O'Sullivan.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
deathofascoundrel1956.72637.jpg

Death of a Scoundrel from 1956 with George Sanders, Yvonne De Carlo, John Hoyt and Zsa Zsa Gabor (that last name, usually, being a reason not to see the movie)
  • Literature → Drama → Melodrama → Soap Opera → Death of a Scoundrel

  • As an admitted, if not proud, fan of 1950s melodrama /soap opera movies (and books), Death of a Scoundrel proves that too much of a good thing can turn bad

  • Just after WWII, a released Czechoslovakia political prisoner reports his brother to the police for having stolen from him and receives an under-the-table reward that provides the funds to immigrate to the US

  • Once in NYC, he pyramids one financial / Wall Street scheme on top of another, while bedding wealthy women (married or not) as a source of funds for his schemes or just amusement

  • Along the way, he corrupts or tries to corrupt brokers, secretaries, business owners, a theater producer, wannabe actresses and a few others I've probably forgotten

  • And, of course, he buys big houses, penthouse apartments, fancy cars and jewelry for his many women while staying in luxury hotels and dining at top restaurants

  • And when it all starts to come crashing down, he ups his deviousness even trying to soil his mother's name to save his skin

  • It has its moments of tawdry enjoyment - and Sanders is such a pro that he give gravitas to a popinjay character - but it's simply too much, too silly and too unbelievable to really work

  • At least I learned that even my weakness for 1950's melodrama has its limits
 
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