Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Knives Out, 2019

First viewing, at mom and dad’s, they were in the same room but not paying attention. This might be the most recent film I’ve watched, it only came out fifteen Marches ago.

I liked it a lot. All the actors and dialogue were great, the pacing was good, it was all done very well. I read up on it and liked the backstory of how it was made, the improv that stayed in the film, and the references to classic mysteries. I also found out Jamie Lee Curtis was married to Christopher Guest and I had not known this.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Brunette, 1950

 First viewing

Just guessing at the date. This Prelinger Archive film is of a certain lady who was famous at the time taking some of her clothes off. I am counting this as a film only because it actually used film.

It was a little weird watching this in my parent’s house. I feel they wouldn’t approve. Also weird because that lady would be older than my elderly mother now. But two minutes was all I could spare on my viewing for the day. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Wild Water, 1957

 First viewing

In 1956-57 RKO made a bunch of sports-related short films, then went out of business. They stayed unviewed until 1994 when they were acquired by TCM, where they’re being shown occasionally. This is one, and it’s about kayaking, on “cold and unruly” water.

The kayaks being used in the film showing the sport in Austria are made from wooden frames with rubber skins on them, with “less strength than a dancing shoe”. People also do crazy shit like this:

Gonna be some weird selections as I am away from home again and much busier than usual. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Crimson Permanent Assurance, 1983

 Many viewings

Yesterday a Victorian home was moved in San Francisco and the video of the house going down the street immediately made me think of the short film that plays before Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. You may not know that the Crimson Permanent Assurance is one of the best films ever made. And I did not know that this existed until just now and I want it so much.

Watch The Crimson Permanent Assurance

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Giant Behemoth, 1958

 First viewing

Note: behemoth means huge thing so the title of this movie is “giant huge thing”.

Setup: radiation. This guy claims “our faces masked with lead” but I’m pretty sure you can’t see through lead.

Prehistoric sea monster somehow gets radioactive, kills with burning radioactive breath. 

“What was it??” “Behemoth...” dies.

Have you seen the lenses from my spectacles? 

For some reason I just love a monster attacking London.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Gun Crazy, 1950

Many viewings of this one, including once at the Castro Theater at a Noir City film noir film festival in San Francisco. No Noir City this year because of the pandemic and it was awful.

This is my favorite love story. Just two kids crazy in love, no misunderstandings or mistrust or mixed messages. They can’t even split up after a major heist. Even though she’s a killer and he isn’t, it always comes back to their bond of love. Body count: four.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Father Takes a Wife, 1941

First viewing

Sometimes you just know based on the descriptions that a movie isn’t your taste, but you watch it anyway because it has these people in it.

Desi Arnaz and that background, what a coincidence.

But then it boils down to a story about an rich older man, Adolph Menjou, getting married to a famous actress older woman, but not too old, and the disapproval of his family. This is 40-year-old Gloria Swanson, who hadn’t made a movie in 7 years after being the biggest silent movie star ever. She wouldn’t make another film until the spectacular Sunset Boulevard. I am fascinated by her shoulder jewelry. Also, she is wearing two bows in her hair. She’s still youthful, you see.

That’s Broderick Crawford’s mom on the left.

It’s also a story about the older man’s son and his wife being drips. 

Tiny appearance by Neil Hamilton, who was a sex symbol and got more fan mail than any other male lead in Hollywood in the 30s, before winding up his career on Batman.

Then who should show up as a stowaway on the yacht the couple take on their honeymoon to Mexico, but this guy. (He’s wearing dark glasses because he was hiding in a cabinet for a week and the light hurt his eyes. What attention to detail).

Yes, that’s Desi Arnaz. He gets cleaned up later. But man, what more edgy roles could have done for Desi Arnaz. But no, he had just fallen in love with Lucille Ball and that sealed his fate.

He plays a singer who gets dubbed by an Italian vocalist which caused Desi to get mail for years asking why he was singing with an Italian accent. Just having his testosterone around makes Senior and Junior think there’s cheating going on with their wives. This nearly breaks up their marriages, but then the always reliable, never fails solution comes along. The women are both pregnant. Oh, brother. Not a spoiler, because this movie is rather spoiled by existing. Gloria was still big, but the movies were the ones that got small.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Illicit, 1931

 First viewing

I’ve tried to watch this several times over the years and this was the first time I made it through. Not that it’s a bad movie, it’s just so stale that Barbara Stanwyck barely saves it. The poster above is actually pretty accurate, only she’s not promiscuous. It’s just one guy, only they’re not married. This is her first film at the age of 24, ain’t she a peach.

Also features an equally gorgeous if more polished Joan Blondell wasted in a small friend role. 

But it was the clothes that ultimately kept me watching. The credit for costuming is someone I didn’t recognize who went on to do mediocre things so I have a feeling the true designer went uncredited.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Moonshine War, 1970

First viewing.

One of those movies that I stumbled on as it was starting on TCM. Based on a 1969 Elmore Leonard novel, it stars Alan Alda as a hillbilly hiding his moonshine from a group of men trying to find it, steal it and sell it during Prohibition. These men, songwriter Lee Hazlewood (who wrote These Boots Are Made Walking for Nancy Sinatra), Patrick McGoohan and Richard Widmark, are cold-blooded and gun-happy. Patrick McGoohan has a weird accent to go with his weird hat. 

Alan Alda also has a weird accent. Or more accurately, seeing Alan Alda with a hillbilly accent is weird. Let’s just say it does not come naturally to him.

This movie made me think of the Coen Brothers. It has a touch of offbeat comedy that just barely registers.

It also has Teri Garr in it briefly, and also Will Geer, who gets murdered.

Not sure who the audience was for this. The soundtrack was sort of hippy twangy nonsense. Has racism. Can’t say I recommend it but that’s not what this blog is for now, is it.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Space Mutiny, Rifftrax Live 2018

 First viewing of this particular version of Space Mutiny.

Being a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan from way back, I’ve seen the riffed version of this 1988 low-budget Battlestar Galactica rip-off many times. This restored footage version was done as a Rifftrax live event where they broadcast in-person riffing of films to theaters across the country. I’ve gone to many over the years but I missed this one. It’s now on Amazon Prime. This is the unedited Space Mutiny including scenes cut out from the original MST3K version.

It hit the spot on a very stressful day that resulted in being in bed with a headache until about 6pm. Lots of laughs and a kind of soothing effect that only MST3K and Rifftrax can provide. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Two Girls On Broadway, 1940

First viewing. How can you go wrong with Joan Blondell and Lana Turner. And George Murphy is in it too, which makes it weird, and I’ll tell you why.

This is your classic trying-to-break-into-showbiz story about a dancer-singer-songwriter, his hoofer fiancĂ©e and her kid sister trying to get a job on Broadway. The supremely gorgeous kid sister gets the job and the man, but he’s George Murphy, who would go on to become a senator in 1964. He famously said, regarding farm labor: "Mexicans are really good at that. They are built low to the ground, you see, so it is easier for them to stoop.” Tom Lehrer also wrote a song about him:

Hollywood's often tried to mix
Show business with politics
From Helen Gahagan
To Ronald Reagan?
But Mr. Murphy is the star
Who's done the best by far.
Oh, gee, it's great!
At last we've got a senator who can really sing and dance.
We can't expect America to win against its foes
With no one in the Senate who can really tap his toes.
The movies that you've seen
On your television screen
Show his legislative talents at a glance.
Should Americans pick crops? George says "No",
'Cause no one but a Mexican would stoop so low.
And after all, even in Egypt, the pharaohs
Had to import Hebrew braceros.
Think of all the musicals we have in store.
Imagine: Broadway Melody of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Yes, now that he's a Senator, he's really got the chance
To give the public a song and dance!

So yeah, he’s a real jerk. But he can dance, and so can Lana Turner. This was when she was just being groomed for stardom and they hadn’t settled on making her platinum blonde.

Look at how beautiful this woman is. It’s easy to believe every man in this film is in love with her. 

And in the end, Joan Blondell takes a bus home to Mudgully Kansas.

Hello Loew’s Criterion

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Clueless, 1995

 First viewing

We sold this costume at SFParty, it was called “Fancy Girl”. Now I get it.

I have not seen a lot of movies that came out in the 90s. I moved to San Francisco in 1986 and from then on hardly any of my entertainment was mainstream, it just didn’t happen. I had more choices. If I went to a movie it was at the Red Vic and was Gimme Shelter or was at The Castro and was Brazil. Mainstream movies seemed expensive and dumb, so I missed about a decade of movies that just about everyone else has seen (I caught up with a few of them later in the brief time I had cable). So I just now saw Clueless. 

When I started this blog it was meant to kill time and force myself to focus on something that was not world events or personal troubles. But today I was so distracted and restless I just couldn’t land on anything I could watch for more than two minutes. Throwing it out to Twitter, comedian Greg Proops suggested Clueless. And I liked it. It had a lot of funny moments and was pleasant and kind and hopeful. I only felt the time go by at one point during the middle. It worked for me. It took my mind off taking the cat to the vet tomorrow and also gave me some  nice feelings about friendships and shopping. The good old days.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Split Second, 1992

 First viewing, Signal-Watch party

I really didn’t know what was going on but I didn’t care. I like to watch Rutger Hauer and I like to watch Kim Cattrall and I like to look at London. Set in the future of 2008 they got the future movie thing wrong they always do, corded public phones. The rat man Alien rip-off monster who absorbs people’s DNA, I’m not sure how, and goes right to the heart of the matter doesn’t show itself til the very end and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Lots of cop action tropes. Not much to love in this but it was a fun watch party.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

A Regular Trouper, 1932

 First viewing

In this short film about a traveling musical company, Ruth Etting sings and has romantic troubles with her fiancĂ© and her sister. Ruth Etting was a huge musical star in the 20s and 30s and the Doris Day film “Love Me or Leave Me” was based on her. While the singing style at the time is kind of annoying, she brings a little soul into it that gives the twittering songbird routine more depth.

This movie also has Harry Earles, the little person who played Hans in Freaks. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Tanbark and Turf, 1955

 First viewing.

From this short film I learned the difference between a trotter and a pacer in harness racing and maybe one other thing (a trotter gallops with alternating back and front legs and a pacer gallops with left side and right side in sync). I did not learn what tanbark is. I had to look it up. It’s the leftover tree bark after tanning hides, used as ground cover. I also learned that horses trained to pull certain carriages wear special shoes that makes them raise their knees super high. I can’t see how the horse would enjoy this as much as just running down a track. Of course, this film was made in 1955 and maybe they don’t do that anymore.

A trotter

Having a possibly sick cat is really killing my movie-watching ability so until I get Sybil checked out it’s going to be short films.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Keep Your Powder Dry, 1945

 First viewing. See, the title is funny because ladies use face powder and also men use gun powder.

Watched this because it has a lot of my favorite actresses in it. This was the first serious role for Lana Turner, leading to The Postman Always Rings Twice the next year. Before this she did a lot of fluff and pinup stuff, you can see her transition during this film. This the was last movie Susan Peters made before the hunting accident that left her paralyzed, she only made one more but worked on the stage until she died at 31.

We see a pre-Lovey Natalie Shafer looking amazing at 45, and uh, Lana has a hangover in this great mirrored door shot because that’s how Lana looks with a headache.

Also an adorable June Lockhart at 20, not

to mention an in-charge Agnes Moorhead.

 Having no real male protagonist, this film showcases women and their relationships with each other, especially where power and service duty overshadow everything. It’s still firmly sexist, but at a time where women had opportunities because there wasn’t anyone else. Fix my car? Is there a monkey that can do it? No? A lady? Well...

Nice mix of complicated relationships in a setting unknown to most. I enjoyed it and it kept me from watching the second impeachment trial. Can’t wait to see the movie of that.

Monday, February 8, 2021

V.I. Warshawski, 1991

First viewing, Swift Watch party

I adore Kathleen Turner, she is always great, but this movie very much isn't. I don't know how they got it so wrong, the intensity level is three out of ten until the last five minutes when it suddenly gets interesting then stops just as fast. Her character is strong and smart and caring and all that but how they made her still be boring I don't know. Maybe it's the director's fault? He also did Revenge of the Nerds, but that has a 6.7 rating on imdb and this movie has a 5.0. It wasn't terrible, it wasn't unwatchable, it wasn't painful, it was just weak. Such a shame.

 Go here for more and better words

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Forsaking All Others, 1934

First viewing

This is one of those movies you watch because you like everyone in it. Joan Crawford, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable, Billie Burke and an early Rosalind Russell plus gowns by Adrian allowed me to enjoy this light screwball, and I really dislike screwballs. I find a man wearing a woman’s dressing gown after his clothes got wet to be desperately unfunny. However, look at this gown. And the other one, too.

Also, it has one these permanent wave machines in it. And she’s on the phone.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Rope, 1948

Third viewing or so

This is one of my favorite movies. Based on a true story, a gay couple, Farley Granger and John Dall, kill a friend to see if they can get away with it and Jimmy Stewart figures it out. A lot has been written about this film and its long takes and staging, not to mention its toned-down homosexuality, but it blends all the scenery and performance so masterfully that all you notice is that it’s a really fine piece of work. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock it’s his first film in color and the way the lighting changes as the sun goes down in the film is fantastic.

This is one of the better films I’ve rewatched this year so far, and a nice addition to a day filled with sunshine and pleasant household tasks. I even cooked. Mostly I had to clean up plaster bits off the floor from the ceiling leak and repairs, because Johnny cat thinks plaster is delicious.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Mannequin 2, On the Move, 1991

First viewing, Signal Watch watch party Regret Watch

Pure garbage aside from Meshach Taylor, who is responsible for a few actually funny moments in this technicolor dumbfest.

I actually had to mix up a few extra cocktails to watch this (sidecars: brandy, triple sec and lime juice). And I'd already started drinking at 1pm because of the workman in my apartment plastering the ceiling leak, fire alarm system testing for an hour this morning, and workmen painting in the hallway setting off my new video doorbell constantly. By 5pm I'd had two naps and the cats had enough catnip to make everything okay again, at least until this movie started. Sybil cat has never yelled so much during a movie and she wasnt even watching it until she got on my lap at the end and tried to block my view to save me. Good kitty.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Forbidden World, 1982

First viewing

1980s Roger-Corman produced sci-fi garbage with nudity.  Alien-ripoff styrofoam container-walled gory goo fest. Bad actors and characters with little charm or quality, even the robot assistant. Star Wars, you have a lot to answer for. 

But not one hundred percent a waste of time, to be honest.
 A few good moments. A few.

This is rare

A woman music credit, though it was pretty awful stuff. Titles kerning by no one, apparently.

There was a sex scene I fast forwarded through due to the unappealing nature of the hero. Also there are a lot of nipples in this movie and it was slowing things down and I was getting sleepy. 

I can totally see this movie being enjoyed by someone who is not me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The House In Marsh Road, 1960

First viewing. This poster is inaccurate.

A UK production, this film is a haunted house noir, with a shady and murderous husband, a dame playing him for anything she can get, a wife supporting and sticking with the awful man through it all, and a ghost. A true house-done-it. No yanking about with spooky music and hints, a straight-up poltergeist. I liked it a lot.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Snowed Under, 1936

 First viewing.

This is one those movies about a playwrite retreated to a winter cabin under pressure to finish the third act of his play a week before opening night. This was practically a genre in the 1930s and 40s. The twist in this one is that the writer, played by George Brent, is joined by his girlfriend, his first ex-wife, his second ex-wife, a lawyer, and a sheriff looking to arrest him for nonpayment of alimony to the second ex-wife, played by Glenda Farrell. It’s got quite a bit of smartassery but the wackiness of it got a bit much. Bonus uncredited Mary Treen.

I watched this movie because the east coast got snow and I was seeing a lot of pictures like this.

Shake, Rattle and Rock! 1956

First viewing, in Hawaii with my friend Mike “Touch” Connors plays a disc jockey fighting for the right of teens to rock and roll. Margaret ...