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The Big Benefit (1933)
Here's the Real Deal
Never mind the fictitious ramblings of the original poster, who obviously never saw this short. There are no nightclub cutaways, no overhead angle etc. I just saw this short at MoMA, NYC, where this and other Universal shorts haven't been seen in 80 years (part of a current series). The short itself is a charming blend of genuinely talented youngsters imitating their adult counterparts.
Hold Everything (1930)
No Longer Lost
For years only the Vitaphone discs were available for this film, but according to the new book The Dawn of Technicolor, a black and white print is extant. This is yet another encouraging recent example of previously missing movies resurfacing, even if not always in their original form. Any fans of Joe E. Brown and Winnie Lightner should be thrilled by this news, particularly since Lightner's film career was relatively short. Originally a Broadway show starring Bert Lahr, this adaptation is a prime showcase for Brown and Lightner, and it was a big success at a time when interest in musicals were waning Hopefully HOLD EVERYTHING will be made available on DVD before long!
Holiday in Mexico (1946)
Oh, Jane Powell Could Act!
I'm a bit late to this discussion, but the reviewer who kept harping on Powell not being an actress makes no sense. She carries herself quite well; of course she can act. Geez--she's charming and handles the role well. Someone who can't act would come across as a clueless amateur. Powell did just fine here and elsewhere. Look at SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS.
Oh yeah, and ROYAL WEDDING. Powell did well opposite many a Hollywood star.
Anyway, even though this movie is hardly among the classics, it's a fine showcase for Powell.
Middle of the Night (1959)
Unlike a lot of soapy relationship dramas from the late '50s filmed in sturdy, widescreen Technicolor, this gruff little movie actually has a pulse that still resonates! The dialog, the real NYC settings, the no frills though excellent black & white photography, the energetically committed performances of Novak and March (and everyone else) are a revelation. Some of the characters could have stepped out of a movie from today with hardly a change of appearance or attitude, such as Lee Grant. The technical and creative side of the film is refreshing for the era--just watch the scene in what looks like natural, overcast winter light as Novak and March laugh and joke as they approach a cabin. Feels so alive and spontaneous, minus any glossy photography or stilted direction. This film really breathes! And if there's music (I actually didn't notice),it's very subtle and doesn't hammer away and distract. Novak is at her very best--previously she seemed rather held in and expressionless to me, but this completely explodes that perception. And though March had a tendency to overact in his career, his tormented emoting here seems understandable. We really feel his pain and anxiety. This movie deserves wider attention.
Did We See The Same Documentary?
I don't know about the previous reviewer, but what possibly could have been done better than this superb documentary? Lifeless it isn't, clumsy it isn't. It's touching, and filled with many fascinating insights. The use of seeing parallel home movies by the brothers during their estrangement was an inspired one. It's very well done, people. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and then some. I hope people will seek out this film and see for themselves just how good it is.
For a Disney release, it's also interesting to see non-Disney films incorporated to give a more balanced look at the brothers' film scores. For baby boomers, this film will be an added pleasure, since so much of this music here most likely was a strong presence during their growing years. Don't miss this one!
Spy Hard (1996)
13 Years Later
I saw this originally on cable and thought, given its limited aspirations, it wasn't that bad. Thirteen years later I still feel that way--25% is actually funny as hell, which is 24% more than most comedies of the last thirteen years. Originally I was most taken by Harden, then unknown. Who knew she'd win an Oscar a few years later? Anyway, the comedy in this film is hit and miss but sometimes very clever, such as a flashback to an encounter just seconds earlier. Sure, the pop culture references of '96 are quite dated now, and the whole film ends up as eminently disposable, but it >does< deliver some solid laughs.
The Cameraman (1928)
Great Film, Lousy New Score
I give this film high marks from start to finish--however, the modern score is absolutely irritating and awful! It sounds cheap and tuneless. Where's Carl Davis when you need him? As for Keaton, it's a wonderful film for the usual Keatonian reasons, enhanced by the various Manhattan locales. I only wish a more definitive edition could be created with a more authentic, less toy-like sound.
Anyway, I saw this on TCM and was delighted and appalled for reasons given above; I recommend that anyone with a creative flair substitute their own vintage music and it'll play far better than the travesty that accompanies this otherwise terrific movie.
I'm a Big Fan But This Is Nearly Their Worst!
Hey, I've been one of the ultimate A&C fans for decades, but this film is lazy, stupid and totally uninspired. The character of Hyde is just a cipher of a character, mindlessly creating havoc. Who honestly believes it's Karloff's alter ego? It's just a stuntman running around giving a bad performance! A & C are mostly on automatic pilot. The only effective scene--and it's just one shot!--is when a group of Scotland Yard bobbies transform into a pack of Hydes. It's inventively done and genuinely scary--why wasn't the preceding movie up to this level??
Believe me, I love A&C, but this film was a botched opportunity. By contrast, A&C MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951) had a real story, far better characterizations and was truly hilarious. HYDE is simply depressing.
The American Venus (1926)
If only this gorgeous looking film can reappear intact. How could it have gone missing? It looks like a high profile enough film in its day, so it's a shame it somehow vanished.
At least we have the two trailers. I've seen one of them.
By the way, that's Ford Sterling, not Gray, in the scene with Brooks.
Many clips from rare films can be found on YouTube, which is a blessing for many of us who always hear about these films but can never find them otherwise.
Many "lost" films may only be in hiding, with perhaps one copy being in someone's collection; I can only hope that in time many longtime missing titles can reappear and be on view again. There's so much missing history from the silent days.
Rockin' in the Rockies (1945)
A Different Angle
I saw this film on TCM with a slightly different attitude. I recently viewed a DVD set called "SHOWTIME USA;" this was a compendium of circa 1950 low budget musicals from Lippert Productions. ROCKIES, though a Columbia film, share some of the same musical cast seen in the later Lippert movies (including a subliminal Snub Pollard appearance) and it's the musical element, so snidely dismissed here, that I find the most worthwhile! My God, you have Spade Cooley, the Hoosier Hotshots, the charming Mary Beth Hughes, etc. So even if it's musically not to your taste, it's still a valuable thing to have on film. For Stooge-centrics there's obviously way better Stooge stuff elsewhere, but this film definitely has its own merits.
Follow Thru (1930)
Vintage Early Musical
A few corrections to the other comments...Busby Berkeley was already doing overhead shots the very same year in WHOOPEE. Also, Zelma O'Neal's number was "I Want to Be Bad," not "Turn Up the Heat," which was from 1929's SUNNY SIDE UP.
Anyway, this is an exceptional musical from the era which is inexplicably missing from view other than museum-type showings. Why can't TCM get a hold of it? The colors are well preserved, the cast is excellent, and it does have a wonderful sense of fun and charm. It really deserves to be rediscovered, as do so many other movies from this overlooked era.
The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
Happy Memories, Happy Movie
I saw this film when I was ten years old, during its initial release. A typical family night out at the movies. For some reason this otherwise ephemeral event has stayed with me as a freeze frame of the more pleasant, uncomplicated memories of that era.
I bought the DVD after not seeing the film since that long ago 1966 night--incidentally, I vividly recall the huge waves of laughter from the audience during several scenes; anyone who dismisses this film as a fiasco or whatever obviously didn't experience a very happy crowd seeking some light entertainment. On seeing the DVD, I was impressed by the sharp editing (I'm an editor--believe me, the timing of various sight gags etc. are very well done), creative use of colors and consistently high level of comedic performances. The naysayers who have posted otherwise don't know from squat. Overall, a totally innocuous movie that has retained a nice reputation as a still enjoyable memento of the mid-'6os.
Breakfast in Hollywood (1946)
Don't Overlook Bonita Granville!
This unpretentious film with a remarkable cast features one of the last movie appearances of Bonita Granville, who deserves rediscovery through everything from the newly released "Nancy Drew" DVDs to a very effective performance in "These Three." Here she boosts a simple programmer with charm and conviction.
It's also a film where such contrasting acts as Spike Jones and Nat King Cole appear,and as bonus there's Hedda Hopper, who I always thought had a very interesting screen presence. I'm not familiar with the radio program the film ostensibly showcases, but it was evidently a popular fixture in its day. But it's Granville who anchors the film with her appealing manner and sincere acting.
Profoundly Strange But That's Not So Bad
A fine cast stuck in a musical with production numbers so ineptly directed one wonders if a monkey wandering by was responsible. Given the bad print quality and murky visuals, it also comes across as a faded relic from some bizarro planet, which is actually one of its unintended attractions. The highlight is a wacked-out space jaunt with an eye-rolling moon face and tapsters on stars, but it sounds better than it is, owing to extremely clunky direction and editing. The dance ensembles are good, just flatly recorded. Lupe Velez and Harry Langdon do what they can to keep things lively, but the movie is pretty much sunk by uninspired direction.
Dance Band (1935)
Unpretentious Charmer Thanks to the Two Leads
Nothing fancy here, with the bonus of a 1935 British setting, Mainly it's the very appealing presence of two American performers, June Clyde, plus Buddy Roger's easygoing manner, that makes this one worthwhile. The music isn't bad, either. I'm curious where these programmers played in the US, since they were pretty much a rare kind of thing--a "B" imported British musical.
Another dubious attraction is one hell of a scary dance team in the middle of it (the female looks like an anorexic Cruella DeVille), but aside from that it's the one time we will probably ever see The Chinese Syncopators! I wonder whatever happened to them?
Air Raid Wardens (1943)
Hardly Vintage But Better Than Great Guns!
Yes, this is pretty anemic L & H, but as their '40s films go, I put it third behind THE BULLFIGHTERS and JITTERBUGS as their most tolerable (the fourth, THE BIG NOISE, has one of the best L & H fadeouts ever, but that's another entry).
Anyway, AIR WARDENS manages to eke out some effective comedic bits, especially some unexpectedly impressive pratfalls from an aging Laurel. The war time trappings can get tiresome, but at least there's neat payoff with one sight gag near the end. Edgar Kennedy is a big plus in this film, and though its flaws are many (why no background music?),it's hardly a catastrophe. That's a backhanded compliment, but I think accurate enough!
Lord Byron of Broadway (1930)
Not for Everyone But Still Worth A Look
Don't let some ol' sourpusses diminish the charm of this admittedly antique musical. For those who find early sound musicals innately fascinating, this one is a key film, particularly for the two-strip Technicolor sequences. And the music is very, very evocative of the era. I'm glad we have such early films available on TCM, since they don't deserve obscurity, whatever their dated qualities. There >is< definitely something to like about this film, which is unfortunately at the mercy of sometimes ignorant and unforgiving 21st century sensibilities. Look beyond the hokey acting and let the authentic feel and sound of the late '20s cast a unique spell. It's still worth a visit.
The Big Noise (1944)
Worth Another Look
As recently suggested by others, THE BIG NOISE has suffered in reputation for years, usually sight unseen. As a lifelong L & H fan, I finally saw it for the first time via the new Fox set (a very well done package), and it is more than acceptable a part of L&H's legacy. Of course it can't match their heyday, but among the Fox films it is much more Stan & Ollie's show than the initial Fox entries. The whimsical fadeout is by far one of the most delightful moments of their entire career, which is something.
Give this film some slack, and you'll have a good enough time with it. I'm glad Fox has made this one available.
The Boy Friend (1971)
I'm delighted to read of people discovering and praising this film right through to the present, and I'm both amused and appalled by those who find this film somehow terrible. Since I first saw it in 1971, I've always considered it an absolutely brilliant tour de force; how many musicals in the last 40 years have matched its unique energy and visual inventiveness? Sure, it kind of ransacks the original Sandy Wilson musical, but I think a conventional, strictly faithful film version would not have worked as well. This one has a streak of genius throughout, thanks to director Ken Russell, cast and crew. Twiggy is the charming heart of the film; kind of like an Alice in Wonderland amid all the colorful backstage madness. She emotionally anchors the film with her vulnerability. Practically every scene has a memorable flourish, and it's consistently witty. So few musicals capture this kind of spirit. It's a shame it isn't on DVD, but maybe there's hope for Blu-Ray? Ignore the naysayers. Try and catch it on TCM.
A Modest Classic
I've watched this film over the years on cable, and it continues to be a very watchable, charming film even with inevitably dated elements. Those who think it the worst thing ever must not see many movies, particularly comedies. This one has an actual brain behind it, a dose of wit and effort to delineate actual characters. In that sense it towers above 97% of most teen-oriented comedies from the last twenty years. I'm pleased that it gets a sizable enough positive response here from viewers, because a film like this can easily be dismissed as a typical formula comedy from a certain era, but unlike many films of its time it retains a very nice appeal, thanks in large part to Christina Applegate. The whole cast is excellent, and overall it's a film that stands up to repeated viewings. How many films from 1991 can still do that?
Cain and Mabel (1936)
Marion Davies Was a Natural Comedy Talent!
I have to respectfully disagree with the reviewer regarding his take that Marion Davies showed no discernible talent for comedy! Doing comedy was the prime talent that she excelled in. Even if this movie was not particularly memorable, Davies does quite well, particularly in the number with Sammy White--if anything, she's at her whimsical best. Marion Davies has always been underrated in her films, often by those who have not seen enough of her performances. Among those usually seen on TCM are Going' HOLLYWOOD(1933) and PEG O'MY HEART (1932), both pretty decent showcases for her. Her best features are more elusive, those produced during the silent era. Of these, one of the more available is SHOW PEOPLE (1928), one of her most highly regarded films. Her natural flair for comedy is in full force, and should put to rest any doubts about her so-called lack of comedic skills.
Always Leave Them Laughing (1949)
Valuable, Underrated Slice of Show Biz History
Probably not intended as such in 1949, in retrospect this film shows an interesting juncture between old time show biz and the imminent influence of television, which changed everything. The film captures some fascinating relics of an earlier time, such as Bert Lahr reprising a famous burlesque-type routine of his from the early '20s. Milton Berle excels in acting out all sorts of comedic styles and formats then in vogue or already seen as passe. Despite its chirpy title song, the film has a surprising toughness and unsentimentality for its era (witness the happily cruel "Men's Club" scene). Recommended for those into show biz history, and also a great way to see some genuinely funny stuff.
The Great Gatsby (1974)
Excellent(If No-Frills) DVD
So much for hoping for a special edition DVD of this undervalued movie. Not even a trailer! But at least the movie has never looked better, and the original music soundtrack has been fully restored, so I'm not about to complain any further. Ever since its release this film has been battered with wildly vicious criticisms. Maybe that can be better reserved for the genuinely numbing and off key 2001 TV version, which makes this version look better than ever. This version, to me, improves with every viewing--it's peculiar rhythms and deliberately sedate pace does work very well, creating a mood not easily comparable to other movies. Then too, look at director Jack Clayton's movie, THE INNOCENTS (1960), which shares a bit of this studied approach. I'm glad this Gatsby version wasn't reduced to a quick and vulgarized romp; instead Clayton took a more intellectual tone, very nicely counterpointed with a superb array of period music. The crowning touch, Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do," is a match made in heaven, both the song and the novel having appeared within a year of each other in 1925. As for the DVD, it now highlights to maximum effect the evocative, first rate cinematography and art direction (what were those other commentators thinking--were they watching a duped VHS?), etc. Too bad a 30th anniversary edition couldn't have happened in 2004, but I'm more than pleased this has been given its chance on DVD. I agree that the novel's literary aspects defies easy transformation into a movie, but we are more than fortunate that this 1974 film version is as haunting and quietly moving an experience that it is.
The Three Stooges in Orbit (1962)
It's A Happy Memory For Alot of Baby Boomers
Sure, I know this film is not a great comedy, or even a good one. But for alot of us aging boomers this film is a sweet memory. It recalls a more innocent time in movies, and an appreciation for the Stooges in their autumnal years. And what's wrong with dancing Martians?
My Bill (1938)
A surprisingly effective programmer (however, Hattie McDaniel is >not< in the movie! It's Bernice Pilot). Performances all around are excellent, and the drama that plays out is still something that can move modern audiences if they give it a chance.