List List Bang Bang

December 15, 2011

2011 (October to December) Screening Log

Filed under: 2011,Screening Log — misterjiggy @ 5:14 pm

December 2011

 Last Update –  December 31, 2011

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  • High Pressure (1932 – Mervyn LeRoy) pro (cable)
  • Margie (1946 – Henry King) pro (cable)
  • 99 and 44/100% Dead (1974 – John Frankenheimer) mixed(-) (DVD)
  • The Nickel Ride (1974 – Robert Mulligan) pro (DVD)
  • Young Adult (2011 – Jason Reitman) pro (Theater)
  • The Widow from Chicago (1930 – Edward F. Cline) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Chapman Report (1962 – George Cukor) con(+) (cable)
  • The Trip (2010 – Michael Winterbottom) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Human Comedy (1943 – Clarence Brown) pro (cable)
  • The Saphead (1920 – Herbert Blaché, Winchell Smith) mixed (cable)
  • Beginners (2011 – Mike Mills) pro(-) (Blu-ray)
  • A Page of Madness (1926 – Teinosuke Kinugasa) pro(+) (cable)
  • Terri (2011 – Azazel Jacobs) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Fear and Desire (1953 – Stanley Kubrick) con(+) (cable)
  • The Tree (2010 – Julie Bertuccelli) mixed (DVD)
  • The Moon and Sixpence (1942 – Albert Lewin) pro(-) (cable)
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011 – Glenn Ficarra & John Requa) mixed (DVD)
  • The Long Night (1947 – Anatole Litvak) pro(-) (DVD)
  • A Life of Her Own (1950 – George Cukor) mixed (cable)
  • Murder! (1930 – Alfred Hitchcock) mixed(+) (on-line)
  • Madam Satan (1930 – Cecil B. DeMille) pro(-) (on-line)
  • Sweet November (1968 – Robert Ellis Miller) mixed (cable)
  • To Please a Lady (1950 – Clarence Brown) mixed (cable)
  • Hugo (2011 – Martin Scorsese) pro (Theater – 3D)
  • Jeanne Eagels (1957 – George Sidney) con(+) (cable)
  • Young Man of Manhattan (1930 – Monta Bell) mixed(+) (on-line)
  • Playing Around (1930 – Mervyn LeRoy) mixed (on-line)

I really enjoyed bubbly blonde Alice White playing rather comedic trampy girls in supporting roles in the solid 1933 films Employees’ Entrance and Picture Snatcher and was curious about her earlier films as a headlining star.  A survey of the names of the characters White played (like Giggles, Dixie, Lulu, Delight(!) & Goldie) provides a pretty quick indication of the types of roles White got.  Here, in this late Jazz Age morality tale directed by Mervyn Leroy who would helm six of her films, White plays Sheba a regular neighborhood girl that wins a nightclub “legs” contest and then gets wooed away from her steadfast but thrifty beau by slick but emty and immoral flash (in the form of a smarmy Chester Morris as a nightclub gadabout/stick up man).  Technical challenges of early talkies aside, it’s clear why White never developed into the Clara Bow of the sound era – she just lacked the acting chops.  It’s perhaps not surprising to learn (if you can trust Wikipedia) that White took a two year hiatus from films in order to “improve her acting abilities”.  Perhaps Warner Bros. just put her in the penalty box – the professional golf equivalent of being sent to Q-School. In any event, she did in fact improve, but despite her comeback top billing would never return – a 1933 sex scandal involving a rather lurid sounding love triangle also didn’t help much.  I plan on checking out another 1930 Alice White starring vehicle next – The Widow from Chicago (as “Palpitating” Polly Dorgan no less) co-starring a pre-Little Caesar Edward G. Robinson.

  • Picture Snatcher (1933 – Lloyd Bacon) pro (DVD)
  • Lawyer Man (1932 – William Dieterle) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Lady Killer (1933 – Roy Del Ruth) pro (DVD)
  • Redemption (1930 – Fred Niblo) mixed (cable)
  • Born to Win (1971 – Ivan Passer) pro(-) (on-line)
  • Crisis (1950 – Richard Brooks) pro(-) cable)
  • Seventh Heaven (1937 – Henry King) pro(-) (cable)
  • Born Reckless (1930 – John Ford, Andrew Bennison) mixed(+) (DVD)

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November 2011

 Last Update –  December 1, 2011

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  • Walk Softly, Stranger (1950 – Robert Stevenson) pro(-) (cable)
  • Unknown (2011 – Jaume Collet-Serra) mixed(-) (cable)
  • Easy Living (1949 – Jacques Tourneur) mixed(+) (cable)
  • The Divorcee (1930 – Robert Z. Leonard) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Le désordre et la nuit (The Night Affair) (1958 – Gilles Grangier) mixed (cable)
  • September Affair (1950 – William Dieterle) pro(-) (on-line)

The Kurt Weill (music)/Maxwell Anderson (lyrics) penned pop standard “September Song”, which figures very prominently in this film, has long been a favorite of mine, though I came to it by way of Sarah Vaughn’s 1955 version. I was surprised to learn that the song was popularized by actor (and rather limited singer) Walter Huston in the 1938 Broadway play Knickerbocker Holiday (Charles Coburn would take on the Huston role (historical figure Peter Stuyvesant) in the largely forgotten 1943 film version of the play).  It’s the recording of the original Huston rendition of the song that gets the spotlight in September Affair, even leading to its reappearance on the pop charts of the day. Coincidence or not, it ends up being a rather fitting tribute to the actor who passed away just six months prior to the film’s release (as a film actor Huston would go out on a high note with Anthony Mann’s The Furies).  Huston’s technically imperfect but heartfelt and effective interpretation providing a suitably melancholy vibe that imbues the entirety of this bittersweet romance.  As for the film itself, it’s the least of William Dieterle’s four “Joseph Cotten romances” (I prefer the earlier Portrait of Jennie, Love Letters and I’ll Be Seeing You) but still a rather lovely, often restrained and “adult” film that eschews some of the emotional amplification of many a melodrama.  The story, set in Italy, involves circumstances that allow for Cotten’s character to fake his own death in order to escape a loveless marriage and burdensome career.  It’s difficult to make Cotten’s somewhat caddish character in the film sympathetic; but the lovely Joan Fontaine as his pianist love interest and partner in escapism does her best to soften the edge (Fontaine’s similarly plays dead but, unlike Cotten’s character, has no spouse or child).  Jessica Tandy does quite well with her rather thankless role as Cotten’s forsaken spouse. There are various travelogue elements in the film (the couple explore Florence, Pompeii and Capri) but they don’t seem perfunctory or otherwise shoe horned into the story.  In some ways prefiguring similar elements in the likes of Roman Holiday, It Started in Naples, or even Viaggio in Italia.

  • Trigger (2010 – Bruce McDonald) mixed(-) (cable)
  • Take a Letter, Darling (1942 – Mitchell Leisen) pro (on-line)
  • Thirty Day Princess (1934 – Marion Gering) pro(-) (on-line)
  • Salty O”Rourke (1945 – Raoul Walsh) pro(-) (on-line)
  • My Cousin Rachel (1952 – Henry Koster) pro (on-line)

This gothic mystery-romance starring Olivia De Havilland (in her first post-The Heiress role) and Richard Burton (quite effective in his first Hollywood based film, even receiving a best actor in a “supporting” role Oscar nomination despite being the film’s protagonist and appearing in most every scene) might play well on a double bill with Rebecca – given that the 1940 classic is also an adaptation of a like spirited Cornwall set Daphne du Maurier novel and stars De Havilland’s (only slightly) younger sister Joan Fontaine (actually the film also shares elements with three other Fontaine efforts from the forties – Suspicion, Ivy and Jane Eyre).  The plot is slightly preposterous (man falls in love with a widow despite his active suspicion that she murdered his cousin for his sizable fortune) and the approach overly manipulative; but it’s all certainly compelling if you are willing to just go with it; though the film is sure to frustrate anyone that likes their mysteries actually solved.  In the end the De Havilland character’s guilt or innocence is just as unclear as Ann Todd character’s at the end of David Lean’s Madeleine.  De Havilland ably works a rather nebulous sweet/nefarious dynamic that suggests her work as twins in The Dark Mirror and prefigures her dual natured Hush …Hush, Sweet Charlotte character.  Joseph LaShelle’s (Oscar nominated) cinematography is so effectively expressive one might mistake director Henry Koster for a stylist (singular critic Manny Farber offered the backhanded compliment that the film had “infallible middle-brow “direction).  Versatile Twentieth Century Fox stalwart Nunnally Johnson wrote the script and produced.

  • Caged (1950 – John Cromwell) pro (cable)
  • Laughter (1930 – Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast) pro (on-line)
  • That Night’s Wife (1930 – Yasujiro Ozu) pro(-) (cable)
  • Anna Christie (1930 – Clarence Brown) mixed (cable)
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011 – Sean Durkin) pro (Theater)
  • One-Eyed Jacks (1961 – Marlon Brando) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • The Story Of The Fox (1930 -Irene & Wladyslaw Starewicz) pro(+) (on-line)
  • Hall Pass (2011 – Peter & Bobby Farrelly) mixed (cable)
  • The Bank Dick (1940 – Edward F. Cline) pro (cable)
  • Limitless (2011 – Neil Burger) mixed (cable)
  • The Switch (2010 – Josh Gordon & Will Speck) con(+) (cable)
  • Les amants de Montparnasse (Montparnasse 19)  (1958 – Jacques Becker) pro (on-line)

There’s something more than a little tiresome about films centering on the tragic lives of impoverished, self destructive, womanizing, substance abusing painters that go unappreciated in their own time – even if the historical facts support the treatment, the result typically reeks of cliche.  Yet, this effort made in black and white (unlike painter biopics from earlier the same decade like Huston’s Moulin Rouge or Minnelli’s Lust for Life) and centering on the France based Jewish-Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani, despite having the typical plot elements and overall narrative trajectory, slowly but surely won me over.  The appeal for me was largely due to the performances of the sensitive Gérard Philipe as the volatile and tubercular artist, the lovely Anouk Aimée as the 19 year old art student and Modigliani model Jeanne Hébuterne and the vivacious Lilli Palmer as Modigliani’s worldly lover/model Beatrice Hastings, a woman that’s part patron, part masochist.  Though it’s Lino Ventura in a much smaller role as an opportunistic art dealer named Morel that left perhaps the greatest impression on me.  Morel hovers stone-faced over the proceedings like Bengt Ekerot’s angel of death from The Seventh Seal – but without a sense of neutrality, he exudes the malevolent patience of a vulture (and suggests a different sort of assassin than the gangster versions he would most famously later portray).  The ending of the film from Modigliani’s feverish death spiral to Model’s parasitic acquisition of an inventory of masterworks is a real gut punch –perhaps overly blunt in execution, but soul crushingly effective nonetheless.  Outside the opening segment (which may have been directed by the great Max Ophüls who started the project but passed way in the early days of production) I found the film rather undistinguished visually, a little flat and, despite the period setting (circa 1919), generally anachronistic.  A little surprising given that I found other Jacques Becker films, like the sublime period film Casque d’Or, to be full of style and visual interest. Perhaps it’s all the result of the film’s seemingly troubled production history– with the death of Ophüls, Gérard Philipe saddled with his own terminal illness and Becker quarrelling with screenwriter Henri Jeanson (of Pépé le Moko, Hôtel du Nord and Fanfan la Tulipe fame) over the script.  It’s fitting that Modigliani had the nickname “Modi”, which is transalated/derived from “cursed”/“maudit”, for Les Amants de Montparnasse could certainly be considered a film maudit.  Within a few years of the film entering production three key figures would be dead – Ophüls at age 54, Becker at age 53, and, perhaps most tragically, Philipe at age 36 (the same age as Modigliani).

  • Little Man, What Now? (1934 – Frank Borzage) PRO(-) (on-line)
  • Melancholia (2011 – Lars von Trier) PRO (Theater)
  • I Married a Witch (1942 – Rene Clair) pro (on-line)
  • The Shepherd of the Hills (1941 – Henry Hathaway) pro(+) (on-line)
  • It Always Rains On Sunday (1947 – Robert Hamer) PRO(-) (on-line)

There is a scene is Cavalcanti’s memorable “Britnoir’ They Made Me a Fugitive that has stuck with me. In it, Trevor Howard as a former R.A.F. pilot turned racketeer and fugitive from justice breaks into a home for temporary sanctuary only to find that the housewife occupant is not so much a vulnerable victim in fear for her safety, but a sudden opportunist willing to barter the shelter for the murder of her drunken husband.  It’s a surprising and nasty little moment that elevates the whole film for me.  By shrinking the divide between the criminal element and the economically depressed post war citizenry, a certain thematic complexity results.  Robert Hamer’s It Always Rains on Sunday is able to carry that type of nuance and nasty tone throughout the entirety of his excellent film, a film in which convenient labels like “film noir”, “kitchen sink drama” and “social realism” fail to offer adequate description.  The film, set against the backdrop of a prisoner’s escape from Dartmoor prison (as was the earlier excellent late period British silent The Cottage on Dartmoor), offers a slice of bleak and gloomy post war London life in the East End, an area predominantly populated with working class Jews and its fair share of petty grifters, spivs, thick skinned survivors, adulterers and plain old towns folk living lives of quiet desperation (a community later given a far warmer treatment by Carol Reed in A Kid for Two Farthings).  The fugitive in this case (John McCallum playing a criminal far less sympathetic than Trevor Howard in They Made Me a Fugitive or that other 1947 UK film fugitive James Mason in Odd Man Out) seeks assistance from a now married old girlfriend with an unextinguished torch for him (an excellent Googie Withers, R.I.P. July 15, 2011).  The fugitive and the townsfolk are clearly cut from the same cloth and simple good and evil designations do not do any of the players real justice.  To contrast with another excellent gritty noir tinged British film from the same year – John Boulton’s Brighton Rock – the denizens in It Always Rains on Sunday have none of the sociopathic malevolence of Richard Attenborough’s gangster Pinkie Brown nor do they have any of the supreme naiveté of Carol Nash’s god fearing Rose Brown; their nature lay in the nebulous middle.  While Brighton Rock speaks of two co-existing but decidedly separate worlds, a sunny seaside destination for weekend tourists on one hand and the crime ridden underbelly on the other, Hamer’s film leaves us with a single fully integrated world, a world where the warts are in plain sight.  The multitude of colorful characters are given enough room to breathe so that, despite the film’s limited time frame (the action is contained to one Sunday), a real lived in environment is created and a sort of social tapestry results.  If it weren’t for a certain softening in the film’s final scene between two of the leads (though hardly your run of the mill “happy ending”) this film might be seen as pure nihilism.  Almost makes one forget that Ealing Studios is best known for comedy (and Hamer would go on to direct arguably the studio’s greatest triumph, and the blackest of comedies – Kind Hearts and Coronets).

  • A Star is Born (1937 – William A. Wellman) pro (cable)
  • 7th Cavalry (1956 – Joseph H. Lewis) mixed (cable)
  • The Makioka Sisters (1983 – Kon Ichikawa) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Mike’s Murder (1984 – James Bridges) mixed (on-line)
  • We Can’t Go Home Again (1976 – Nicholas Ray) con (cable)
  • I Hate But Love (1962 – Koreyoshi Kurahara) pro(-) (DVD)
  • College (1927 – James W. Horne & Buster Keaton) pro(-) (cable)
  • California Conquest (1952 – Lew Landers) con (cable)
  • June Night (1940 – Per Lindberg) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Count the Hours (1953 – Don Siegel) mixed(-) (cable)

 

 

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OCTOBER 2011

Last Update – October 31, 2011

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  • Let Me In (2010 – Matt Reeves) pro (cable)
  • House of Wax (1953 – Andre De Toth) pro (cable)
  • House on Haunted Hill (1959 – William Castle) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Pit and the Pendulum (1961 – Roger Corman) pro (cable)
  • The Masque of the Red Death (1964 – Roger Corman) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Daguerréotypes(1976 – Agnès Varda) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Hot Blood (1956 – Nicholas Ray) mixed (cable)
  • The Stars Look Down (1940 – Carol Reed) pro (on-line)
  • Hollow Triumph (1948 – Steve Sekely) pro (cable)
  • Tea and Sympathy (1956 – Vincente Minnelli) pro(-) (cable)
  • Little White Lies (2010 – Guillaume Canet) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Bandido (1956 – Richard Fleischer) pro(-) (cable)
  • End of the Road (1970 – Aram Avakian) con (DVD)
  • Cars 2 (2011 – John Lasseter, Brad Lewis) mixed (DVD)
  • Paul (2011 – Greg Mottola) mixed (Blu-Ray)
  • Wind Across the Everglades (1958 – Nicholas Ray) mixed (cable)
  • Casanova ’70 (1965 – Mario Monicelli) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • A Child is Waiting (1963 – John Cassavetes) pro (cable)
  • Intimate Lighting (1965 – Ivan Passer) pro(+) (on-line)
  • Incendies (2010 – Denis Villeneuve) pro(-) (Blu-Ray)
  • All Good Things (2010 – Andrew Jarecki) mixed (cable)
  • The Red Lily (1924 – Fred Niblo) pro (cable)
  • Road to Nowhere (2010 – Monte Hellman) mixed (DVD)
  • The Woman on Pier 13 (1949 – Robert Stevenson) mixed (cable)
  • Jane Eyre (2011 – Cary Fukunaga) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Go West (1925 – Buster Keaton) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Me and My Gal (1932 – Raoul Walsh) pro(+) (on-line)
  • The Miniver Story (1950 – H.C. Potter) mixed (cable)
  • Experiment Alcatraz (1950 – Edward L. Cahn) mixed (cable)
  • Les Cousins (1959 – Claude Chabrol) PRO(-) (Blu-Ray)
  • Angry Street (1950 – Mikio Naruse) pro (DVD-R)
  • Meek’s Cutoff (2010 – Kelly Reichardt) pro(+) (Blu-Ray)
  • The Power and the Glory (1933 – William K. Howard) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Drive (2011 – Nicolas Winding Refn) pro (Theater)
  • The Group (1966 – Sidney Lumet) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Castle on the Hudson (1940 – Anatole Litvak) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Three Secrets (1950 – Robert Wise) mixed(+) (on-line)
  • The Vanishing Virginian (1942 – Frank Borzage) pro(-) (cable)
  • Street Scene (1931 – King Vidor) pro(+) (cable)
  • American Guerrilla in the Philippines (1950 – Fritz Lang) mixed (on-line)
  • The Constant Nymph (1943 – Edmund Goulding) pro(-) (cable)


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