Susegado, Preminger-wise

It's been kind of quiet lately, classic film-wise (as Jack Lemmon would say in The Apartment). I'll be taking a brief hiatus for the Labor Day weekend and I hope to come up with lots of new posts!

In September, I'll be starting my new Otto Preminger series. It's to prepare for my friend Kevin's lecture in November. If it weren't for the postal office losing my Netflix movies, I would have already started! Alas, I shall have to wait.

Here are the films I plan on watching and posting about here. If you are saying to yourself, why in the name of Helios is she not watching such Preminger classics as Laura, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Whirlpool, Fallen Angel, River of No Return and Anatomy of Murder? That's because I've already seen them, Silly! With so many Preminger films to see, I can't afford any repeats.

Angel Face (1953)
Advise and Consent (1962)
The Cardinal (1963)
Man with the Golden Arm (1956)
Daisy Kenyon (1947)
Stalag 17 (1953)
Carmen Jones (1954)
Bonjour Tristess (1958)

Check it out!

My good friend Kevin has just written a review on the classic film noir Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950). Go read it on Steve-O's site Noir of the Week!

Please also stop by Christian's excellent blog The Classic Film Show. And if you have spotted an image of a classic film star in your city (on the side of a building, on a shop sign, etc) please contribute to his "Stars in the City" post. An amazing idea and I'm excited to dust off my camera and give a shot (literally).

The Marx Bros. on Jeopardy!... and two hard-boiled eggs

On last night's Jeopardy! Teen Tournament, host Alex Trebek asked contestant Rachel Horn, 15, about her passion for the Marx Bros. movies. I was so impressed, not only by this girl's smarts but by the fact that she even knows who the Marx Bros. are, let alone be a fan of theirs. It fills me with pride to know that there are young people out there who value intelligence as well as classic films. Go Rachel! I'll be rooting for her tonight.


Guest Blogger: Kevin's 12 Movies Meme

Last but not least is Kevin, who has FINALLY done a 12 Movies Meme for me! Yay! His choices are great and the themes are hilarious! Enjoy.

I'm gonna link it up by giving a shout-out to Lazy Eye Theatre who started it all and Ibetolis at Film for the Soul who tagged me.

MONDAY

Theme: "Crime Is Just a Left-Handed Form of Human Endeavor"
Films:
The Asphalt Jungle (1950) & The Killing (1956)
Reason: Two suspenseful noir heist films, both starring Sterling Hayden along with an ensemble of eclectic, oddball characters.


TUESDAY

Theme: "We Didn't Need Dialogue – We Had Faces!"
Films:
Singin' in the Rain (1952) & Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Reason: Two entertaining movies about Hollywood. One, a delightful musical, hilariously depicting the creative challenges that came along with the advent of sound pictures - the other, a dark, baroque comedy about the casualties of the transition from silents to talkies.


WEDNESDAY

Theme: Stiff Upper Lips Sure Make it Hard to Kiss
Films:
Brief Encounter (1946) & The Remains of the Day (1993)
Reason: Two of the most moving dramas I have seen about loneliness, longing, and unrequited love, each featuring a heart-wrenching crying scene by Celia Johnson and Emma Thompson, respectively.

THURSDAY

Theme: Long, Hot, and Steamy Summers in The Deep South!
Films:
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) & Baby Doll (1956)
Reason: Two hot, sexy Southern melodramas penned by Tennessee Williams, brought to you by Elia Kazan! Oh yeah, Karl Malden acts in both of them!

FRIDAY

Theme: Keep Those Anti-Depressants Handy…
Films:
Wild Strawberries (1957) & Another Woman (1988)
Reason: See how Ingmar Bergman inspires Woody Allen. Victor Sjostrom and Gena Rowlands, respectively, play eminent professors who are revisited by the past. Their memories cause them to question the rigid way they have lived their lives.

SATURDAY

Theme: Adult Shenanigans + a Precocious Child's Imagination = TROUBLE!
Films:
The Fallen Idol (1948) & Atonement (2007)
Reason: A child's misunderstanding of adult situations sets the plot in motion in these two great British dramas.

Guest Blogger Joanne

Fellow Golden Age of Hollywood member Joanne recently went to the Capitolfest 6 in Rome, NY. She honored me with the chance to post her thoughts on the festival and the films she's saw. Please see her post below! Also, check out her blog!

Please be courteous and address the guest author when you make comments to their post. Not to me! Thank you! And thank you to Joanne for sharing!

A Day at Capitolfest 6 by Joanne

On Sunday, August 10, 2008, I attended day three of Capitolfest 6 at the Capitol Theatre in Rome, N.Y. The festival bills itself as “a vacation -- not a marathon.” The intermissions and breaks provided are generous enough to allow attendees time to explore the 1928 movie palace, network with old friends, and make new ones.

Both Sunday sessions began with restored Vitaphone shorts. The day’s first feature Lets Go Native (1930) starred Jack Oakie as a wise-cracking taxi driver and Jeanette MacDonald as a Broadway star in love with a millionaire’s grandson. Jerry Orlando of the Syracuse Cinephile Society stated in his introduction that Lets Go Native was Leo McCarey’s first film for Paramount after leaving Hal Roach Studios. No kidding, this film was closer in spirit to a Roach short than it was to any of McCarey’s later sophisticated comedies. The silly, rather loose plot involves Miss MacDonald’s Broadway troupe traveling by ocean liner to put on a show in Buenos Aires. Later Miss MacDonald and her party are shipwrecked on a desert island ruled by King Jerry (“Skeets” Gallagher) and inhabited by a bevy of showgirls from Brooklyn. (Hey, I told you it was silly.) There is, however, a bit of sophistication provided by Miss Kay Francis in a small supporting role as an elegant socialite who even performs a romantic duet with Jack Oakie. Now there’s an odd couple!

Show Folks (1928), the second feature shown, was released by Pathé in both sound and silent versions. The silent version was screened accompanied by Bernie Anderson on the Capitol’s magnificent Moller Theatre Organ. Eddie Quillan starred as Eddie Kehoe, an arrogant vaudeville hoofer looking for his big break -- what an absolute jerk he was! Not only does Quillan dump his delightful dancing partner, Rita, played by Miss Lina Basquette, but he also rebuffs a young, stunning Carole Lombard who practically begs Quillan to marry her. To quote Dr. Phil, “What were you thinking?” Miss Basquette’s performance was energetic and sassy; her dancing was exceptionally good, too. My husband remarked that the film had a very authentic feel of what backstage life for vaudevillians might have been like.

In the afternoon session a short from the Screen Snapshots series was shown. “An Informal History of Hollywood” included some fascinating newsreel footage illustrating filmdom’s highlights from 1921 through 1938. I’d list the featured stars, but it would probably be briefer to tell you who was missing.

The plot summary for The Shakedown (1929), on the Capitolfest’s Web site, reads, "The life of a less-than successful professional boxer changes when he takes in an orphan." So I naturally thought this film must be something like The Champ (1931). Oh no, this film is nothing like The Champ. As William Wyler's powerful, gritty drama unfolds we see boxer James Murray struggle with his moral dilemma to be true to the orphan he has taken in while remaining firmly entrenched in a ruthless con job. Murray's performance was terrific, making it even sadder to consider how his bright film career was ruined by alcoholism, and that he would be dead within a few years after this film's release. Murray's supporting cast, Barbara Kent and Jack Hanlon, also contributed fine performances. Hanlon played the orphan without any cuteness or over-sentimentality. Wyler's genius is evident even in this early film. Pardon the pun, but I was absolutely knocked-out by the scenes of Murray working on an oil rig, the breath-taking rescue of the orphan, and of course the boxing sequences. Dr. Phillip C. Carli, George Eastman House's silent film accompanist, provided a magnificent score. The print shown was a 35mm restoration struck from a 16mm print belonging to a private collector. Seeing this film was a marvelous movie experience, but unfortunately subsequent screenings of The Shakedown in a period setting like the Capitol Theatre will be rare indeed.

In closing I just want to recognize the dedicated volunteers who made Capitolfest possible. The festival is a labor of love carried out by a band of very dedicated people with a passion for great classic film.

Blog Updates

Just a few random things about me and the blog that I'd like to update you on...

I just did a post on The Invention of Hugo Cabret and will do one soon of M (graphic novel) on The Golden Age of Hollywood networking site. If you are not a member yet, please join!

Out of the Past ~ A Classic Film Blog is now on the Facebook blog networks. If you are a Facebook member, please join my network as a reader. If I get 15 readers, my network will feed updates onto Facebook which would be AWESOME. There is a link to join on my sidebar. Feel free to become my friend too!

The team "Bumpy Knights with Fastened Seatbelts" won second place in the Brattle Theater's Movie Trivia Night on Thursday. Our team consisted of Captain Kevin, me, Bob, Vivienne, Jeremy and Raquel (yes, it was Raquel X 2). I stunk but was able to help out with a few key questions including the tie-breaker for second place which had us approximate the closest if not actual date of Humphrey Bogart's birth. Both Kevin and I knew it was 1899 and it sealed our place! Woohoo! Fingers crossed for more movie trivia nights in the future.

If anyone knows where I can find a gold art deco fan necklace, e-mail me please!

Guest Blogger: Bob's 12 Movie Meme

Here are Bob's selections for the 12 Movie Meme! He's become my regular guest contributor to the site. Bob also really really likes using all caps, as you'll see below.

And I also want to thank the folks who participated in the tag! Much appreciated to Frank, Steve-O, Carrie, Ginger and Bob (::fingers crossed for Kevin::). Props to Lazy Eye Theater for starting it all and Ibetolis of Film for the Soul for tagging me.

MONDAY
THEME: IT’S NOT SMART TO TAUNT YOUR OPPONENT BEFORE A DUEL.
FILMS & REASON:

THE SEA HAWK (1940) ~Henry Daniell (the arrogant Lord Woffingham) to Errol Flynn (the gallant Captain Geoffrey Thorpe): “This time you won’t be as lucky as you were at Cadiz (referring to Flynn’s escape from the Spaniards, for whom Woffingham, a traitor to Queen Elizabeth, is working).” A minute later, Flynn runs him through.

THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940) ~ Basil Rathbone (the sneering Esteban) to Tyrone Power (the foppish Diego Vega):“You have a champion, Luis – and (his voice dripping with sarcasm) what a champion!” Rathbone still thinks Power is a feckless dandy, which he only pretends to be to conceal his true identity – the dashing Zorro! A minute later, Power runs him through.

TUESDAY
THEME: MY HAM IS SLICED THICKER THAN YOURS.
FILMS & REASON:
THE RAVEN (1935)
Bela Lugosi’s incomparable over-the-top performance as Dr. Richard Vollin, a mad plastic surgeon who has built replicas of Edgar Allan Poe’s torture devices in the basement of his mansion. Vollin lures the woman (Irene Ware) who has spurned his advances and her wimpy boyfriend (Lester Matthews) to his home and imprisons them in a chamber where the walls will slowly come together and crush the love-struck duo. Bateman (Boris Karloff), a gangster on the lam whose face Vollin has deliberately disfigured, is the madman’s reluctant accomplice. (And no, I’m not making any of this up.) Lugosi to Karloff: “What a torture! What a delicious torture, Bateman! Greater than Poe!Poe only conceived it; I have done it, Bateman! POE! YOU ARE …. AVENGED!!!!!!!!”

FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE (1940)
Charles Middleton, gaunt, mean, hatchet-faced; here he plays – for the third and last time – the Emperor Ming, aka Ming the Merciless, the greatest outer space villain in the history of the movies. Confronted by Flash Gordon and his allies, Middleton, who never just spoke his lines if he could snarl them, exclaims: “I’ll release the Death Dust and kill them all!!!!” Need I say more?

WEDNESDAY
THEME: THEY MAY BE KILLERS, BUT THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER MOTHER’S DAY.
FILMS & REASON:
NOTORIOUS (1946) ~When Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), the head of a Nazi cell in South America, discovers that his wife (Ingrid Bergman) is an American agent, he rushes to his mother’s bedside for guidance. His mother (Leopoldine Konstantin) tells him to poison Bergman and then offers this backhanded consolation: “Fortunately, we are protected by the enormity of your stupidity.”

WHITE HEAT (1949) ~Psycho mobster Cody Jarrett (Jimmy Cagney) suffers from excruciating headaches that only his Ma (Margaret Wycherly) can alleviate. He crawls into her lap, and she massages him, all the while encouraging his maniacal impulses: “Top of the world, son, top of the world.” When he finally gets there, it blows up in his face.

THURSDAY
THEME: THEY ONLY GAVE ME $25 FOR SPECIAL EFFECTS.
FILMS & REASON:
THE DEVIL BAT (1940) ~ The “giant” rodent hanging from the rafters in Bela Lugosi’s laboratory looks like a moth-eaten stuffed animal. I’ve seen scarier Beanie Babies.

BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955) ~Director Ed Wood bought a big rubber octopus from studio surplus, but didn’t have the cash to buy the motor that ran the damn thing. In his climatic death scene, the aging Bela Lugosi had to wrap the beast’s arms around his torso himself.

FRIDAY
THEME: TWO PERFECTLY CAST MOVIES
FILMS & REASON:
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) ~ Errol Flynn as Robin, Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian, Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy of Gisbourne, Alan Hale as Little John, etc.

THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) ~
Bogart as Sam Spade, Mary Astor as Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman, Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo, Elisha Cook, Jr., as Wilmer, etc. As Justice Potter Stewart said about obscenity (“I know it when I see it”), you’ll know they’re perfectly cast when you watch these movies.

SATURDAY
THEME: MAD SCIENTISTS IN THE GRIP OF MEGALOMANIA RESORT TO PLAGIARISM
FILMS & REASON:
FRANKENSTEIN (1931) ~ Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstein, screaming as his creation comes to life: “In the name of God, now I know what it feels like to be God!” Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau in ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932), quietly boasting after giving wild beasts human characteristics: “Do you know what it means to feel like God?”

The Stolen Jools (1931)


I had the pleasure of watching this 19-minute short filled with a whole slew of MGM stars. The premise of the story is that at a ball the previous night, Norma Shearer's jewels went missing. A detective sets on the case bumping into suspicious MGM stars along the way.

Everyone is a suspect! There are lots of cameos and its fun to watch purely for star spotting. Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Edward G. Robinson, Buster Keaton, Gary Cooper, the Little Rascals, Irene Dunne, Richard Barthelmess (I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw him!) and Barbara Stanwyck among others.

Some of the scenes make sense, but it's a little ridiculous when the introductions are stilted like:

"Hey I know you, you're Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. And everybody knows you! You're Loretta Young!"

Really? Run out of ideas, mayhaps? Besides that, it's campy fun and a pleasure to watch! You'll find it among the Bonus Materials on the Laurel & Hardy DVD The Flying Deuces.


Flying Deuces (1939)

When I watch a Laurel and Hardy film, I don't usually laugh. However that doesn't mean their films are not funny. Absolutely not! I enjoy them, along with Buster Keaton silents, Marx Bros talkies and various other forms of '20s and '30s comedy, with a sort of silent amusement. Take The Flying Deuces (1939) for example, which I hadn't planned to watch but Frank had lent me the DVD since it had The Stolen Jools (a short with Norma Shearer in it) as Bonus Material. Its got a few things that I just think make it magnificent. Hardy wants to commit suicide after being rejected by his lady love. But he doesn't want to do it alone and enlists his friend Laurel to join him. Hilarity ensues as they try to drown themselves in the river. But why should they kill themselves when they can join the Foreign Legion. Excellent. More fun follows when they take off to another land far far away. They are miserable and try to escape, with Laurel and Hardy involved in a madcap airplane accident that finds Hardy rising to the heavens as an angel. But its alright, he gets reincarnated into a horse (who wears the signature bowler hat and mustache, of course) to keep Laurel company. He should have stayed on "terra cotta" (as Laurel puts it) in the first place instead of 1) trying to drown himself and 2) trying to escape via biplane. But if that were the case, we wouldn't have had this wonderful film complete with Harpo-esque playing of a bedframe as a harp by Laurel. Supreme.

Sexiest Scenes in Film History: Teacher's Pet (1957)

I think the picture and its caption are self-explanatory don't you think? What could have turned out to be a boring movie with a young Doris Day still trying to find her stride as a romantic lead and an aging Clark Gable a little incredible as her suitor, was saved by this one great frame!



Guest Blogger: Frank's 12 Movies Meme

Finally! My friend Frank has given me a guest post. Yay! Here is Frank's contribution to the 12 Movie Meme. Enjoy!

Monday
Theme: Upstairs, Downstairs - plus a murder!
Films: Rules of the Game (1939) & Gosford Park (2001)
Reason: My favorite movies of their respective release years (1939 & 2001), examination of class structures in pre-WW2 France and England.

Tuesday
Theme: Shemp in the movies!
Films: Another Thin Man (1939) & Buck Privates (1941)
Reason: The amazing acting talents of Shemp Howard on display in feature films.

Wednesday
Theme: The Foreign Legion
Films: The Flying Deuces (1939) & Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950)
Reason: Two great comedy duos enlist, and hilarious complications ensue.

Thursday
Theme: The Great Directors take on the Nazis
Films: The Great Dictator (1939) & Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Reason: Chaplin and Hitchcock with two of their best films.

Friday
Theme: Great Soundtracks
Films: The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) & Star Wars (1977)
Reason: Watching these two films just to listen to the score is perfectly acceptable.

Saturday
Theme: Who Done It?
Films: Who Done It? (1942) & Who Done It? (1956)
Reason: Abbott & Costello and Benny Hill trying to figure it out works for me.

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