Among tit-bits of information we're told that a star of "It's Always Fair Weather" was a cross-dresser but not which one. I was also amused to learn that Press Agents were known as Suppress Agents as their main role was to keep bad publicity out of the papers. Things have changed! If you think you'd like "Inside the Dream Factory" you probably will.
I thought the movie was awful, leads Douglas and Shapiro couldn't act (they made a total of one more film between them!), the "pop' performers were bland with the songs totally forgettable and it's obvious why the British trad jazz craze was soon blown away by the Beatles et al.
Speaking of the Beatles, I couldn't for the life of me see, though of course others did, how Richard Lester was given two Beatles films to direct on the strength of this. All the humour here was, to me, embarrassingly, excruciatingly unfunny.
One other thing that bothered me was the glorification of smoking. Two singers, John Leyton and Gene McDaniels actually drew on cigarettes while they were singing, "Mister" Acker Bilk had a lit cigarette between his fingers as he played his clarinet and legendary Australian DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman is seldom seen without a smoke.
Sorry, fans, I hated it.
Beginning with the great Sammy Davis who could sing, dance, act, and do impersonations (not fair, is it?) we are treated to a marvelous parade of talent from Bessie Smith through Louis Armstrong, Paul Robeson, Aretha Franklin and so,so many others up to today's (well 2002's) Hip-hoppers.
Of course I'd like to have seen more of just about everybody, especially Fats Waller – "supreme master of stride piano", the gorgeous Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, and on and on I could go but I hope you get the idea.
I'd like the commentators identified as even the credits weren't very helpful, the IMDb listings are much more comprehensive. No problem picking out Little Richard with his "Look at me" squeals but that's a very minor quibble. Please see "It's Black Entertainment" as soon as you get the chance.
If I wanted to watch porn I can find plenty of it but if "Big Love" can't show nudity they shouldn't feature scenes of married love done in such a ridiculously unrealistic way with the husband naked and the wife almost fully clothed!
First of all Eric Portman is outstanding as the pathetic WW1 Captain whose time has passed. He reminded me a little of David Niven in "Separate Tables". Flora Robson as his supportive wife is also excellent, no surprises there. It struck me looking at the familiar faces in the cast that so many of these actors always seem to have been middle-aged, was there a young Irene Handl or John Laurie, was there ever a teenage Kathleen Harrison, Marjorie Rhodes or Patricia Hayes? I can't recall them.
While it's fascinating to see the Women's Institute in action in Village England "Great Day" is very studio-bound with too obvious back-projection and the dialogue tends to the stilted. (I did like one line about a dinner invitation "Kill the fatted spam") And was Britain always drenched in sunshine?
"Great Day" is well worth one look.
I thought this was a co-production between Australian pay-TV company Foxtel and British TV (BBC?) but apparently it's all-Aussie. The action takes place in London and Sydney and in case you're not sure where we are, every time the location changes we start with a shot of Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben etc or alternatively Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Opera House. (Incidentally, according to "False Witness" every resident of Sydney has a harbor view).
Real-life couple Dougray Scott and Claire Forlani are a great-looking pair, Clare especially is a stunning-looking young woman. Unfortunately on this evidence Dougray is something of a sleepwalker.
I don't think I need to explain the plot again as Venus Attack has covered it well but I suspect the couple whose marriage fails after they lose a child in an accident has been done before.
(The broadcast I watched had sub-titles (which I find helpful) in the second episode but not the first!)
Unfortunately this is all played out so predictably with by-the-numbers plotting of the Boy Meets Girl etc., etc., variety, one-dimensional supporting characters, and a bit of Little England thrown in. And the attempts at humour all fall flat.
The main problem for me was that angel-faced Charlie is a selfish, manipulative, lying little toad. And those are his good points! Maybe the message is that children need two parents in order to grow up human. I'm not sure but we certainly are told that smoking is a good thing if you are stressed! There are the usual Hallmark bedroom scenes where Mack proudly displays an unfeasibly hairy chest while Annie meticulously covers up.
Sorry, Helen, can't recommend this one.
If you ignore the occasional plot hole in a movie lasting only an hour this is good entertainment with some very black humour concerning the electric chair. A street newspaper seller calls out "Mile-Away Gordon gets the hot squat tonight" and a potential execution witness declares "I like to see 'em sizzle" I've always found Van Johnson a little insipid for serious roles but perhaps that's just a personal prejudice; Faye Emerson, who I was unaware of, is a Rosalind Russell type ("His Girl Friday" again!) and the rest of the cast of mainly older unknowns perform competently.
"Murder in the Big House" was made and set in the era when hats for men were compulsory wear; a room full of reporters all sport felt hats and Van's fedora remains firmly in place after a fast and furious fist fight with much wrestling on the floor! I couldn't find a mention of this film in any of my reference books but I assure you they cover plenty that are worse. Have a look if you get a chance, you won't be sorry.
"What we did .." didn't work for me as comedy, I didn't care for Roger Lloyd-Pack's Parkinsons' sufferer being treated as a figure of fun. There is one good line when they go into a church where Pauline Collins' reply to "Make a wish if you want" is "The technical term is praying" However this Granada International comedy/drama has something to say about our responsibilities for our aging parents and the ending packs a real punch.
"What we did on our Holiday" is crisply edited but has excessive use of the Stedicam, its Maltese setting is attractive and Pauline always gives a performance.
No one in the film can act and the attempts at humor are embarrassing. Herman's Hermits made some decent music in the sixties - my favorite is "My Sentimental Friend" but on this evidence they were not-so-pretty boys short on talent and devoid of charisma. The only song that I recognized was the well-titled "She's a Must to Avoid". Mediocre song, good advice.
Davy, set in the world of the Music Hall, must have seemed like a good vehicle for Welsh entertainer Harry Secombe with opportunities for manic clowning and a chance to show off his beautiful baritone voice. But the film is unconvincing, and the characters not well enough developed to be sympathetic.
The story concerns Davy Morgan, a member of a third-rate comic family variety company, who has a try-out for the Covent Garden Opera but doesn't want to break up the act. This despite the fact that one performer is a hopeless alcoholic and another an obnoxious womaniser. But so long as Davy stays in the fold all will be well. Or so we are expected to believe.
There are a couple of lovely arias in the audition sequence (where did the orchestra come from when Harry sang Nessum Dorma?) otherwise Davy is hardly worth the effort.
By the way, on this evidence it wasn't television that killed the Music Hall (Vaudeville), it was live theatre consisting of old jokes, bad puns, embarrassingly unfunny slapstick and songs that are sentimental tripe.
When Tom goes undercover to investigate the murder Lois and Matt start an affair with devastating consequences. Other leading characters in Undercover Heart include single parent Matt's wise beyond her years little daughter, a Detective Inspector whose bad back is aggravated by the stress his team frequently put him under and two terrifying pimps who Tom has to get close to and who both are easily capable of murder.
The acting is brilliant, the tension palpable and the story well brought to a satisfying conclusion. I urge you to see Undercover Heart if you get the chance.
Mae is pleasingly plump in this one, an unlikely sex goddess though it must be remembered that she was about forty before she made a movie. Still, the suitors crowd around her, especially in the Race Track sequence.
Goin' to Town seems to be a sort of modern-day Western with Mae getting around in a car as well as on a horse but she wears the same elaborate Victorian gowns as she did in Belle of the Nineties.
The plot is well summed up elsewhere; Mae is engaged to Buck Gonzales who is shot while rustling cattle. A lawyer advises her that she is entitled to his estate since she agreed to marry him. `You did consent, didn't you?' Mae: `Certainly did - twice!' Another line capable of a risqué interpretation is when Buck says `I've been thinking about you a lot lately' Mae replies `You must be tired'
Wonderful entertainment, she even warbles agreeably in the Samson and Delilah scenes and how about that walk? The word sashay was invented for her. No wonder there were strong rumours that Mae was a female impersonator. She describes her self as `a good woman for a bad man' and later `I'm a woman of very few words but lots of action' (she learnt Spanish while working in Tijuana!)
Goin' to Town is not her best film (for me - She Done Him Wrong) but I thoroughly enjoy it just the same.
Guy Pearce plays an insurance investigator whose first case involves a man who claims to have no short term memory; he in fact can't make new memories, a very rare condition. After a thorough investigation Pearce refuses the claim, concluding that the man is faking it. (Even though in a test the claimant repeatedly picks up an electrified object, forgetting in a matter of a couple of minutes the electric shock he keeps getting)
So shortly thereafter, when Pearce surprises a rapist attacking his wife and receives a blow to the head, what do you think is the outcome? You guessed it, he can't form new memories!
The device of telling the story `backwards' has been done before in the Harold Pinter-scripted British drama `Betrayal' and in the Jane Campion Australian TV-feature `Two Friends'. But perhaps it hasn't been tried in a Hollywood movie.
Blonded Aussie Pearce does a convincing U.S. accent but I wasn't as impressed as most were by Memento.
Although these stars combined for the sublime film noir `Out of the Past' this can by no stretch be regarded as noir. The whole atmosphere is light; there are no night scenes or shadowy urban rainscapes, neither femme fatale nor doomed characters and no flashbacks. Call it comedy/drama or even a Road Movie but film noir it ain't!
Forget the recent remake and after about ten minutes you'll certainly forget that this is thirty-odd years old and made in black and white. Maybe its high-class soap opera but even so its all class.
Truly a saga spanning four or five generations, the story is dominated by Eric Porter's Soames, the cold venal rapist who eventually commands our grudging respect and the truly beautiful Irene played by Nyree Dawn Porter, Soames' victim who later finds love. And then there's Susan Hampshire's pretty but totally selfish Fleur, drawing you eye whenever she's on-screen. Incidentally, Nicholas Pennell plays Fleur's husband as if he was Wilfred Hyde-White in My Fair Lady! There are many other major characters, all well portrayed and you'll really care what happens to them.
Even the make-up of the two Porters is worth a word of praise as they age convincingly.
A minor criticism I could make is the rather eccentric recording of the sound. The dialogue level soars and drops as if the microphones were concealed in flowerpots like the early talkies. Doors slam loudly and there are unidentified knocks and bangs in the background.
See this masterpiece of television if you can, I don't think it has been bettered.
'Compendium' films were popular in the late Forties, several were made from the short stories of Somerset Maugham and then there was the greatest of them all 'Dead of Night'. 'Train of Events ', hardly in that class, contains four stories which all culminate on a train which we saw crashing in the opening scenes. So, like 'Friday the Thirteenth' ( a great portmanteau movie made in 1933) the climax is a matter of virtue rewarded and villainy punished as not everyone survives.
Interestingly television is quite strongly featured for the time (1949), a wind-up gramophone looks much more appropriate!
Valerie Hobson is first actor credited though her role is no larger than several others, she plays the forgiving wife of a philandering husband. In real life Hobson was married to British cabinet minister John Profumo whose relationship with Christine Keeler brought down a government in the sixties. Once again Life Imitates Art. In another story Peter Finch murders his faithless wife. He spouts chunks of Shakespeare, looked gaunt and middle-aged to me.
The model-work at the climax is satisfyingly convincing, I recommend 'Train of Events'
A knowledge of recent British political events would be most helpful but lines like `Loyalty has always been my greatest weakness' should strike a chord in any parliamentary democracy.
Despite being a generously built man Fyffe gives us a most dainty sword dance before Mahoney, not to be outdone, performs an expert tap-dance. Fyffe also sings very pleasantly an appropriately Scottish tune `New Years Day'. Then there's a golf game with much use of the niblick (an old-fashioned 9-iron, I believe) and the usual cheating.
This vintage movie is well worth seeking out; it ran a neat 80 minutes in the beautifully clear print that I saw.
`I Thank You' was made & set during the Second World War. It opens & closes in the London Underground where the population went to escape the German air raids, includes a couple of novelty songs plus performances from Richard `Stinker' Murdoch who became a top radio script-writer and Kathleen Harrison who always seemed to play a maid until she had great success in the fifties in The Huggetts series of films.
It's hard to recommend `I Thank You' which is often frantic and farcical; the best I can say is that it is mercifully short at seventy-odd minutes.
As to the film itself I can only agree with most other opinions that `Song of the South' is charming, delightful and in parts very funny. I can't look at it through African-American eyes but I could certainly find nothing objectionable in their depiction and Uncle Remus is absolutely the wisest character in the story. I actually found more to upset me in the class stereotyping of the Favers family.
With a catchy theme song which won Oscar and attractive, if slightly pale Technicolor `Song of the South' is a total pleasure and I hope that it is now freely available for all to enjoy.
It is easy to see why Alice was such a bright star for so long; she has looks, charm and a beautiful deep singing voice. On the other hand I've never really warmed to John Payne, I find him very stiff and he does nothing to change my opinion here. Laird Cregar overacts outrageously to great effect cast against his usual menacing or sinister type.
`Hello, Frisco, Hello' is actually a reworking of 1935's `King of Burlesque' which also featured Jack Oakie and Alice Faye. What the film is not is any sort of feminist tract. We are expected to believe that Alice's character, beautiful and talented enough to conquer London's West End Musical Mecca, is incomplete without the love of Payne's Barbary Coast promoter, a cad who has previously dropped her callously to marry a socialite for her status in the community.
However, nuances of character are hardly the thing in these Hollywood musicals and I can assure you that `Hello, Frisco, Hello' is a total treat.
I have enjoyed both these leading actors on TV before but while Niamh Cusack is as attractive and delightful as always Robson Green has gone back to his bag of tricks & tics from `Soldier, Soldier' rather than showing us the more expansive character of, say, `Reckless'
The Welsh scenery is beautiful and most beguilingly photographed but I'm afraid `Rhinoceros' is too predictable and uninvolving to be worth the investment of time.