Recently Watched & Favorite Movies: Personal Reviews & More

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And God Created Woman from 1956 with Brigitte Bardot


And God Created Woman is a love letter to a very young Brigitte Bardot. I had that thought before learning, after the movie, director Roger Vadin was Bardot's husband at the time. Instead of jewelry, a car, clothes or a vacation, Vadim gave his wife a starring role in a film as a gift. Not bad.

There are the lithe beautiful women of the world, like Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, and then there are the amped up everything women, like Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren. Bardot is firmly in the latter group.

Sure, there is a story here, and it's surprisingly okay (compared to most of John Derek's all but unwatchable love letters on film to his wife Bo twenty years later), but you watch this movie to see Bardot being Bardot.

From the opening shot of her sunbathing nude (other than a very brief side shot of her bare bottom, she's clothed, albeit scantily, throughout) to her final dance scene in her unbutton-up-to-there dress, it's all about seeing Bardot. It wouldn't work if she was just beautiful; it works because her youthful joy sparkles on film.

Eighteen-year-old orphaned Bardot is fostered by a family - a mom and three sons - in Saint Tropez. Bardot is oddly spoiled and acts ungrateful to her foster family. What mom with three sons ranging in age from early teens to mid twenties thought bringing this sex-on-steroids woman into her family was a good idea is a question for the ages.

In addition to dating the oldest son, Bardot is pursued by a wealthy middle-aged businessman who is also trying to buy the fostering family's failing boatyard. But when the mother, finally fed up with Bardot's attitude, is about to send her back to the orphanage (can you even do that with an eighteen year old?), the middle son surprisingly steps up and marries her.

Oddly, now is when the love triangle - quadrangle - really kicks in as the older brother, the one Bardot seems to really love, becomes angry that he didn't marry her when he had the chance, while the wealthy businessman continues to circle both Bardot and the family's boatyard.

The rest of the movie is waiting for the marriage to break. Bardot, showing more insight than most of the others, recognizes that she makes bad decisions. Yet, like many eighteen-year olds, she can't help herself and she knows she can't.

Bardot gives her marriage a chance while the middle son tries his best, but Bardot is too full of life and sexuality to settle down at eighteen. The marriage does break in expected and unexpected ways with a surprisingly cool outcome, but you'll want to see that end for yourself.

While And God Created Woman's surface and subliminal lust was scandalous for its time, today it doesn't shock, but it still works because of Bardot's evergreen sensuality. The movie is also neat time travel to San Tropez in the 1950s. It's not a great movie, but there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half than watching Bardot's youth and beauty lift off the screen.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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The Miracle of Morgan Creek from 1943 with Betty Hutton, William Demarest, Eddie Bracken and Diana Lynn


Farce: a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.
- Definition from Oxford Languages


Farce is not my thing, so I have to work a bit to appreciate movies like The Miracle of Morgan Creek, which is a farce on steroids.

During WWII, Betty Hutton, a nice but flighty young woman, in a night of drunken craziness, marries a soldier she doesn't know, consummates the marriage that evening, then wakes up the next morning to find that he's gone.

She also doesn't remember his name, but remembers she used a false name, she's now forgotten, on the marriage license, she's now lost. So, effectively, she can't find the soldier or proof of her marriage.

Okay, that's not a really big deal as it can all just be "forgotten" (who cares if there's a meaningless marriage license floating out there with a false name on it). She can just move on with her life - we all have a night or two in our lives, assisted by intoxicating beverages, we'd prefer to forget.

Except, Ms. Hutton has a small problem; yup, shortly afterwards, she discovers she's pregnant and not in a time when single moms were embraced by small-town morals.

While Hutton tries to keep this, umm, "news" from her cranky constable father, William Demarest (who was born looking forty and, then, aged in real time from there), she and her younger sister, Diana Lynn (the only person in the movie with a brain), try to scheme their way out of this mess.

Enter Ms. Hutton's childhood admirer, bumbling and stuttering (it was a different time and that was acceptable humor, especially in a farce) Eddie Bracken. This milquetoast is only too happy to marry the way-out-of-his-league girl of his dreams, Hutton, even after he learns of her condition - every prize comes with a price.

With that set up, the rest of the movie is a series of increasingly frantic pranks, pratfalls and misunderstandings as Hutton and Bracken, with an assist from Lynn, try to annul Hutton's mysterious one-night marriage. The next step in the plan is for Hutton and Bracken to get married, so that everything will be made "right" before Hutton's pregnancy shows.

Writer/director Preston Sturges, though, is not going to let everything be made right before everything is, first, made a lot more wrong. The attempted "fix it" marriage falls apart at the Justice of the Peace. When Bracken tries to right the ship, he ends up in jail charged with, amongst other things, bank robbery. Not helping at all, Demarest, his future father-in-law, is his jailer.

More crazy farce stuff ensues: A fake escape attempt, an intervention by the governor, Hutton's family is run out of town, a cow wanders through their new kitchen and (spoiler alert), at Hutton's madcap delivery, doctors and nurses run around unglued as she gives birth to sextuplets, which becomes international news.

Despite all the stars and crazy stuff going on, the gem in this movie is younger sister Diane Lynn. While everyone and everything is falling apart, time and again, she keeps her head, comes up with the best plans, eye rolls her Dad when he goes off the handle and placates her not-bright big sister Hutton. She's the enjoyable normal amidst the three ring circus.

You either go with all the antics (which is hard for me) or turn off the movie. If you go with it, you begin to see, under all the crazy, smart social and political commentary about the hypocrisy of our surface morals and the dirty dealings of insider politics.

A couple of other good messages from the movie are, one, we need to be more understanding of people's failings, as everyone has them, and, two, life can be fun if we all would just loosen up a bit.

While ridiculous on the surface, the underlying story - a woman pregnant out of wedlock - was very real and serious for its time. Maybe that's part of writer and director Preston Sturges' genius. By wrapping a big taboo of the era inside a farce, he was able to get The Miracle of Morgan Creek past the sensors, while making the taboo itself seem nonsensical and mean spirited.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 64052
The Miracle of Morgan Creek from 1943 with Betty Hutton, William Demarest, Eddie Bracken and Diana Lynn


Farce: a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.
- Definition from Oxford Languages


Farce is not my thing, so I have to work a bit to appreciate movies like The Miracle of Morgan Creek, which is a farce on steroids.

During WWII, Betty Hutton, a nice but flighty young woman, in a night of drunken craziness, marries a soldier she doesn't know, consummates the marriage that evening, then wakes up the next morning to find that he's gone.

She also doesn't remember his name, but remembers she used a false name, she's now forgotten, on the marriage license, she's now lost. So, effectively, she can't find the soldier or proof of her marriage.

Okay, that's not a really big deal as it can all just be "forgotten" (who cares if there's a meaningless marriage license floating out there with a false name on it). She can just move on with her life - we all have a night or two in our lives, assisted by intoxicating beverages, we'd prefer to forget.

Except, Ms. Hutton has a small problem; yup, shortly afterwards, she discovers she's pregnant and not in a time when single moms were embraced by small-town morals.

While Hutton tries to keep this, umm, "news" from her cranky constable father, William Demarest (who was born looking forty and, then, aged in real time from there), she and her younger sister, Diana Lynn (the only person in the movie with a brain), try to scheme their way out of this mess.

Enter Ms. Hutton's childhood admirer, bumbling and stuttering (it was a different time and that was acceptable humor, especially in a farce) Eddie Bracken. This milquetoast is only too happy to marry the way-out-of-his-league girl of his dreams, Hutton, even after he learns of her condition - every prize comes with a price.

With that set up, the rest of the movie is a series of increasingly frantic pranks, pratfalls and misunderstandings as Hutton and Bracken, with an assist from Lynn, try to annul Hutton's mysterious one-night marriage. The next step in the plan is for Hutton and Bracken to get married, so that everything will be made "right" before Hutton's pregnancy shows.

Writer/director Preston Sturges, though, is not going to let everything be made right before everything is, first, made a lot more wrong. The attempted "fix it" marriage falls apart at the Justice of the Peace. When Bracken tries to right the ship, he ends up in jail charged with, amongst other things, bank robbery. Not helping at all, Demarest, his future father-in-law, is his jailer.

More crazy farce stuff ensues: A fake escape attempt, an intervention by the governor, Hutton's family is run out of town, a cow wanders through their new kitchen and (spoiler alert), at Hutton's madcap delivery, doctors and nurses run around unglued as she gives birth to sextuplets, which becomes international news.

Despite all the stars and crazy stuff going on, the gem in this movie is younger sister Diane Lynn. While everyone and everything is falling apart, time and again, she keeps her head, comes up with the best plans, eye rolls her Dad when he goes off the handle and placates her not-bright big sister Hutton. She's the enjoyable normal amidst the three ring circus.

You either go with all the antics (which is hard for me) or turn off the movie. If you go with it, you begin to see, under all the crazy, smart social and political commentary about the hypocrisy of our surface morals and the dirty dealings of insider politics.

A couple of other good messages from the movie are, one, we need to be more understanding of people's failings, as everyone has them, and, two, life can be fun if we all would just loosen up a bit.

While ridiculous on the surface, the underlying story - a woman pregnant out of wedlock - was very real and serious for its time. Maybe that's part of writer and director Preston Sturges' genius. By wrapping a big taboo of the era inside a farce, he was able to get The Miracle of Morgan Creek past the sensors, while making the taboo itself seem nonsensical and mean spirited.

.....but, but where's the social justice. What about the poor, deprived, drunken and loosely wrapped soldier, who went off to war and will apparently never know he has sired six little crumb snatchers running around Morgan Creek looking for their biological father. Does the movie unravel any of the mysteries and vagaries of fact with which the movie presents us? LOL, I don't think I will add this one to my list. Great review, but my fevered mind would not tolerate the unanswered questions. ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Tall Story from 1960 with Jane Fonda, Anthony Perkins, Ray Walston, Marc Connelly and Anne Jackson


What would a 1950s-era mashup of a battle-of-the-sexes movie with an innocent college movie look like? Enter, Tall Story.

Big man on campus Anthony Perkins is an earnest basketball star and scholar. Jane Fonda is the coed who came to Custer College to meet and marry Perkins - with no compunction about using subterfuge.

Tall Story is wholesome and silly, like a Rock Hudson-Doris Day movie, but set in a college and filmed in black and white. One doubts a movie like this was taken seriously at the time, but seen as goofy escapism, then or now, it's okay entertainment.

The fun "twist" in this one is while Jane Fonda is radar locked on target Anthony Perkins, he's kinda oblivious, at first, to her overtures. Equally fun is Fonda all but roping in two of her professors, Ray Walston and Marc Connelly, kinda against their will, to assist in her campaign to win Perkins' affections.

After Fonda talks the professors into seating her next to Perkins in their classes - yes, it's that kind of movie - she just keeps coming at Perkins until he begins to notice her. Yet, he's really focused on "the big game" against a traveling Russian team.

It's all hijinks - she wrangles a job babysitting for one of the professor's kids to, again, get close to Perkins; they have their first kiss after a discussion of fruit flies mating (she's the aggressor); he gets so distracted by her that he fails his ethics test and loses his eligibility to play in "the big game."

More hijinks ensue: the college president (with his eye on the alumni money that follows sports' victories) tries to "not pressure" the professor to allow Perkins to take a make-up exam; the Russians try to bribe Perkins to not play and Perkins breaks up with Fonda when he discovers she had a plan to "catch" him.

If you've seen a few 1950s battle-of-the-sexes movies and a few 1950s college movies, you've seen all the pieces of this one just arranged differently in other movies. You also know that after a few more catastrophes, that really aren't catastrophes, all will work out in the end as it does here.

The actors, especially Walston and Connelly (and Walston's pleasantly put upon wife, Anne Jackson, who is clearly smarter than her professor husband) seem to be having fun in their roles, which makes the silly plot tolerable. Although, you know you're getting old when you enjoy the comic relief of the middle-aged college professors as much as the youthful pulchritude of stars Fonda and Perkins.

Don't seek Tall Story out, but if you stumble upon it one day and you're in the mood for a cute, mindless 1950s movie with some appealing actors, it's an acceptable way to spend an hour and half (just don't admit to anyone you watched it).
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 64124
Tall Story from 1960 with Jane Fonda, Anthony Perkins, Ray Walston, Marc Connelly and Anne Jackson


What would a 1950s-era mashup of a battle-of-the-sexes movie with an innocent college movie look like? Enter, Tall Story.

Big man on campus Anthony Perkins is an earnest basketball star and scholar. Jane Fonda is the coed who came to Custer College to meet and marry Perkins - with no compunction about using subterfuge.

Tall Story is wholesome and silly, like a Rock Hudson-Doris Day movie, but set in a college and filmed in black and white. One doubts a movie like this was taken seriously at the time, but seen as goofy escapism, then or now, it's okay entertainment.

The fun "twist" in this one is while Jane Fonda is radar locked on target Anthony Perkins, he's kinda oblivious, at first, to her overtures. Equally fun is Fonda all but roping in two of her professors, Ray Walston and Marc Connelly, kinda against their will, to assist in her campaign to win Perkins' affections.

After Fonda talks the professors into seating her next to Perkins in their classes - yes, it's that kind of movie - she just keeps coming at Perkins until he begins to notice her. Yet, he's really focused on "the big game" against a traveling Russian team.

It's all hijinks - she wrangles a job babysitting for one of the professor's kids to, again, get close to Perkins; they have their first kiss after a discussion of fruit flies mating (she's the aggressor); he gets so distracted by her that he fails his ethics test and loses his eligibility to play in "the big game."

More hijinks ensue: the college president (with his eye on the alumni money that follows sports' victories) tries to "not pressure" the professor to allow Perkins to take a make-up exam; the Russians try to bribe Perkins to not play and Perkins breaks up with Fonda when he discovers she had a plan to "catch" him.

If you've seen a few 1950s battle-of-the-sexes movies and a few 1950s college movies, you've seen all the pieces of this one just arranged differently in other movies. You also know that after a few more catastrophes, that really aren't catastrophes, all will work out in the end as it does here.

The actors, especially Walston and Connelly (and Walston's pleasantly put upon wife, Anne Jackson, who is clearly smarter than her professor husband) seem to be having fun in their roles, which makes the silly plot tolerable. Although, you know you're getting old when you enjoy the comic relief of the middle-aged college professors as much as the youthful pulchritude of stars Fonda and Perkins.

Don't seek Tall Story out, but if you stumble upon it one day and you're in the mood for a cute, mindless 1950s movie with some appealing actors, it's an acceptable way to spend an hour and half (just don't admit to anyone you watched it).

Another very thorough and informative review...artfully written, well organized and quite helpfully detailed. But alas, as a matter of principle, I do not watch anything with Jane Fonda in it. Hell, I won't even re-watch Barbarella! Now that's a pretty serious commitment, methinks. LOL. :(
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Another very thorough and informative review...artfully written, well organized and quite helpfully detailed. But alas, as a matter of principle, I do not watch anything with Jane Fonda in it. Hell, I won't even re-watch Barbarella! Now that's a pretty serious commitment, methinks. LOL. :(
You'll got no argument at all form me about your choice - I get it.

On a more fun topic, did you notice Perkin's white bucks and chinos in the pic?
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
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Human Desire from 1954 with Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford and Gloria Grahame


You, Broderick Crawford, mouth off to your boss and lose your job. You then beg your wife, Gloria Grahame, who knows an influential man in the town, to ask him to get your job back for you. She does, but you find out she had to sleep with the man in return.

So, you kill the man in front of your wife, blackmail your wife into keeping quiet and, then, try to go back to living a normal life with her. It doesn't work. It's just too much to sweep under the emotional rug.

Into this mess walks Glen Ford, a returning Korean War vet who is damaged from battle more than his surface "normal" would have you believe. He falls in lust, maybe love, with Grahame, but the outlook for these two is not good.

Famed director Fritz Lang, like all famed directors, made some just okay movies, like Human Desire. It's a fine by-the-number noir that also serves as a lagniappe for railfans, but it's no classic.

Ford returns from Korea to his old job as a train engineer where one of his bosses is assistant rail yard manager Crawford. After Crawford murders the man who slept with his wife, Grahame turns to Ford trying to find a way out of her now prison-like marriage. Her backstory, then, slowly dribbles out.

Grahame's character lies so much in this one, though, by the end, you really don't know the truth. Even Ford, in love/lust with her, finally gives up trying to get the truth out of her.

Grahame was or wasn't abused growing up by a father figure - possibly the same man she asks to get her husband's job back. She married Crawford believing or not he was a good man who would treat her well. Crawford did or didn't abuse her physically and mentally owing to his irrational (or, maybe, rational) jealousy.

What you are left with is a bunch of people you, ultimately, don't like. Crawford is a bully, probable wife abuser and murderer. Graham is an uber manipulator of men to the point of being a sociopath. She also is an accessory after the fact to one murder and tried to manipulate Ford into killing her husband. Ford is an accessory after the fact to the same murder and walked right up to the line and stopped before killing Crawford.

All the "human desire" underlying the murder and contemplated murder is because everyone wants to sleep with Graham or is consumed with jealousy that someone else did. Graham is an attractive woman, but too much of this story pivots on men wanting to go to bed with her.

The small gift wrapped inside this one is the incredible 1950s train and rail yard scenes of the era's huge diesel trains moving through switches, roundhouses, towns and the countryside during train travel's final heyday in America. We also see the proud men who kept them moving: men like Crawford and Ford who had (what they thought were) secure jobs with good pay where they saw the rewards of their physical work in tangible results.

Lang understands the noir genre well giving us plenty moonless nights, shadows, alleys, seedy bars, cigarette smoke (noir's oxygen), lust, love, hate, murder and, ultimately, lives wrecked for reasons that aren't worth it. You know, good noir stuff. Human Desire doesn't add up to a classic, but it's an entertaining hour and a half of humans behaving badly, oftentimes, while riding on cool trains.

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