Saturday, October 19, 2013

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

This movie was a little odd - boring and interesting at the same time. The plot is minimal and only really emerges in the final third of this 64 minute film. Though it does serve as a portrait of lower Manhattan in the 1890s. Definitely lacking in the soon to follow Hays Code purity, subtle and not-so-subtle references abound to prostitution and casual sex. This includes the classic Mae West line, delivered to a 29-year-old Cary Grant, "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?"

I found West annoying, but probably mostly due to her resemblance to poor imitations of her unique accent. I suppose it's not an accent exactly, but not sure what else to call it - it's the Mae West accent. That in itself almost makes this worth watching.

42 to go...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927)

Chang is a pseudo-documentary filmed in southeast Asia.  I can imagine it would have been very captivating to audiences of the time as it shows natives living with and battling with countless wild creatures.  Many scenes are obviously staged, so I have to add the "pseudo" tag, but it does show the men capturing and killing tigers, leopards, lizards, snakes, etc.

There's no real story to speak of.  Basically they kill off the dangerous predators then capture some elephants (which they call changs).  At just 69 minutes, it's one of the shortest best picture nominees and probably worth a watch if you can handle the animal cruelty.

43 to go...

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

This was Orson Welles's followup to Citizen Kane and I have to suspect that's why it received the attention it did from the academy. It was also based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I had pretty high hopes going in, especially as it has taken a long time for this movie to become available. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed. The protagonist is an unredeemable brat, but I could live with that if something truly compelling was happening to those around him. Other than an underdeveloped unrequited romance of his mother's, there's really nothing to latch on to. A very forgettable film.

44 to go...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Watch on the Rhine (1943)

With this title and knowing it was a WWII movie, I was surprised to find it is set in Washington D.C. Bette Davis plays the proud wife of an anti-fascist German man who, along with their three children, has been on the move for several years dodging the Nazis. They come to D.C. to visit the family she hasn’t seen in 17 years.

This movie had a really solid script by Dashiell Hammett, but the words were given over to what I would call very clunky acting from everyone outside of Bette Davis and Oscar winner Paul Lukas. So while I enjoyed the story, it was hard to get too immersed in it.

45 to go…

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

49th Parallel (1941)

Other than Inglourious Basterds, this is the only WWII movie I can think of that hit a point where I thought, “this doesn’t seem plausible.” And while I could get behind Tarantino’s artistic masterpiece, 49th Parallel is pretty forgettable.

A Nazi U-boat is sunk in Hudson Bay and six surviving Germans flee through Canada, wreaking havoc along the way. An Internet search after viewing quickly confirmed that, obviously, this never happened, and that the film was made as a propaganda piece to help encourage the still neutral United State to enter the war.

A small part early on by Laurence Olivier is worthwhile and the movie is fairly entertaining overall, but one of those I probably won’t recall the plot of down the road.

46 to go…

Friday, June 7, 2013

All This, and Heaven Too (1940)

This was one of the best unrequited love stories I’ve ever seen. Strangely enough, even though it is set in the 19th century, it is based on a real case and deals with how the media’s tabloid mentality can distort the truth. Bette Davis plays Henriette, a governess hired by a Duc and Duchess in France to watch after their children. As she becomes part of their family, the newspapers spin events to place her as a harlot destroying the family and seducing the Duc while the poor Duchess is helpless to stop her. In reality, the Duchess is a wicked, jealous woman who misinterprets every little action in the chaste and respectful relationship Henriette has with her husband and children.

A very good movie.

47 to go…