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Little Miss Marker (1980)
fun little race track caper
The recurring theme music is almost "What a Day for a Daydream", with a jazzy twist. Walter Matthau is "Jones", the grouchy old bookie, and when someone owes him money, they leave their daughter as collateral. Supporting roles by Julie Andrews, Tony Curtis, Bob Newhart, Brian Dennehy. Its a fun, cozy little film, but sadly no big magic. The best things about this film are the premise... someone's little daughter as an I.O.U., and the nicknames of the various cast members. Newhart is "Regret", Matthau is "Sorrowful Jones", Lee Grant is "the Judge", and Sara Stimson is "the Kid". Don't forget Randy Hermann as "Fleabag Hotel Clerk". Based on a story by Damon Runyon, which has been remade several times. Jones and Amanda race a horse, and might fall in love in the process. The poor little girl is always asking when her dad is coming back, and Jones never knows what to say... so of course, "the Kid" goes looking for dad on her own. Jones finally has to tell her the truth, and that ain't easy. It's a fun, low-key caper. "Hopscotch" was the OTHER film Matthau made that year, and it's SO much better. Some fun names in Little Miss Marker. Needs to move a little faster, or something. Both Andrews and Matthau had won Oscars for earlier roles. This one isn't bad... just not great.
group "travels" to the deserts of Libya for treasure
Minor Spoilers *** Filmed in SUPERSCOPE, according to the opening credits! definition and history at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_35 Richard Conte and Victor McLaglen were pretty big stars, for their day.... McLaglen had won the Oscar for "The Informer" waaaay back in 1935. Here, Gillmore (Conte) and Donovan (McLaglen) team up to find the buried gold in the desert hills of Libya. After snitching a truck, the group, including Donovan's daughter (Mala Powers) end up in the middle of Libya to find the buried gold... "somewhere" in the desert. A plot-hole for me was the time and expense the army spent on looking for a stolen truck, out in a huge desert. and did no-one try to talk the daughter out of heading into the desert, where they might be locating and removing stolen gold? I guess the policeman Levering wanted to follow her to see where dad had gone to. maybe he thought she would be able to talk her dad out of causing more harm ? anyway...moving on.
Some scenes were filmed in the deserts of Yuma and around the Salton Sea, California. The ending was almost a little too "fairy-tale-ish"... i wondered if the book ended the same way, or had been made more viewer-friendly for the audiences at the time. What we end up with seems a little unlikely... but whatever. This 1955 version does not seem to be at all related to the Italian, 1942 film "Bengasi". Directed by John Brahm, who had worked extensively with Hitchcock. Bengazi is pretty good. Only 4.9 rating on IMDb, but that's after about a hundred votes so far. It must have been pretty exotic for the viewer to think maybe they were seeing the real deserts of Libya.
documentary - Alan Ladd Junior
This is a Turner Classics production, with an introduction by Ben Mankiewicz and director Stanley Isaacs. As the film itself starts, Mel Brooks talks about the making of Young Frankenstein, and Alan Ladd's connection to the film. Ladd's father was the renowned actor in SO many films over the years, but Ladd Junior was a studio executive at numerous different studios, before leaving to form his own company. It moves pretty slowly, as Ladd seems to have had a stroke, or at least has difficulty speaking. Apparently, Ladd was willing to tackle some tricky film projects that the big studios were scared to touch, or at least were unwilling to fund with large budgets. Clearly, for Ladd, it's all about the P & L (and rightfully so). We see the stats for each film he discusses, and boy, he did some biggies. Mostly huge successes, he DOES talk about some of the losses. And of course, they include the info on the Oscars they did or didn't receive. Pretty interesting stuff. I recommend watching it, if you can find it. Have the pause button ready.... they keep showing full screens of summaries for people and films, but the screens disappear after just a few seconds.
Cherry Pop (2017)
LGBT caper in a nightclub
Where To Begin....I try to be kind to LGBT films, but this one was originally a 30 minute short script, stretched out to a full length film. Some funny bits... mean drag queens, picking on the straight guys, in a drag queen lip-synch nightclub. Lars Berge is "the cherry", a brand new (straight boy) act trying out at the club, where the established acts are catty, as expected. A fun song... "Thanks for sticking it in me!" Although I must say... Waaaaayy too much time spent on Zaza, who does the "Birdcage" bit where she simply can't go on for a myriad of stupid reasons. That got annoying quickly. Some fourth wall stuff... like speaking to the camera, but then suddenly the others can hear it also. It's entertaining, and a fun caper, but the script needed more meat on it. There's a funny bit during the out-takes, which I won't give away, but stick around to the very end... its pretty funny. Directed by Assaad Yacoub, who has written and directed several films. Written by Nick Landa. Currently showing on netflix.
Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944)
(long) wartime story... with Lana
"Lovey Howell" (Natalie Schafer) tries to steal the opening scenes, but no-one could steal the show away from the beautiful Lana Turner. Turner is "Theo", the bride, who tries to keep her mother from butting in. James Craig is "Miles", the close friend, but she will marry "Tom West", a good soldier from Boston (John Hodiak). This was a WW II film, so of course, the issues of war, and getting married before one goes off to war were in everyone's mind. This was an earlier credited role for most of the cast, but it all comes off quite well. Not much of a deep story, but it's well done. Turner really lit up any scene, once they put a light on her. ( If you haven't seen Postman Always Rings Twice, it's her shining role!) The ups and downs of married life. It's a bit of war time propaganda... Lana always seems to be thinking out loud, voicing all her thoughts all the time, whether she's with her friends or her husband, almost in a child-like fashion. At one point, Theo looks at a sign that says "DO NOT ENTER".. and enters anyway, destroying army equipment. Seems pretty unrealistic. How entitled of her! About half way through, the plot goes off in other directions, and it gets more serious. It's almost two hours, but they could have done all this in shorter time. It's pretty good. I'm sure it carried more weight with folks who really were going through all these same issues during wartime. Directed by Robert Leonard, who had started EARLY in the silents.
Don't Get Angry (1953)
how-to educational vid from the 1950s
Probably a better title for this little shortie would have been "Don't get Violent!". It's only natural to get angry, but as the film short shows, its all about how one handles the situation. The clothes and the cars are all clearly from the early 1950s, and the film itself is pretty dated. Lots of jumping rope and model airplanes. Pretty dated stuff. and is drawing a silly picture of someone you're mad at a good, healthy activity? Pretty similar to all the "How to...." films we actually did watch in grade school. Booooorrring. Produced by Milan Herzog , who had produced TONS of these little educational tidbits for Encyclopedia Britannica. There are only a few listed here on IMDb, so theoretically there is a whole treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Fortunately its all over in twelve short minutes. Pretty lame, but i guess its historically significant, for the kids' clothing and hobbies.
Jackass Mail (1942)
two greats in a less than great film
Marj Main had been in the biz about ten years when this part rolled around. (My favorite role for her is "The Women", not to mention all the Ma Kettles.) Of course, Beery had been in silents for YEARS, and made the transition to talkies. In "Mail", Baggot (Beery) tries to rob a wagon with Tucker (Main) on board. He interrupts another robber who also thought there was gold to be had. Darryl Hickman is Tommy, who gets a delivery, the center of all the trouble. Tucker seem to have a myriad of occupations... she drives a mail coach, and dances and sings on the saloon stage. Not really much of a plot here...or maybe too many sub plots. When Tommy's dad is knocked off, he goes to live with Baggot, which appears to be out in the woods. Kind of feels like they they had Main and Beery sitting around, so they wrote a story around em. Not the best work for either of them. Tucker decides they want the railroad to come to town, so halfway through, we go with that storyline. This film seems to have several sub stories, which come to an end when another begins. Written by Gardner Sullivan, who had started in the silents, like Beery, and had worked with him waaay back in 1924. Sullivan was also involved with "All Quiet on the Western Front", two Oscars, so that one had a much tighter storyline. It's OK, but I think they tried to work in too many stories. They should have tightened up the script and gone with less sub stories. It's still fun to see two greats like Main and Beery at work.
Wild Orchids (1929)
end of the silents for Garbo
Well, this is an early Garbo, so of course its historically significant. IMDb shows this as "Lanaguage = English"... although, honestly, its a SILENT, with some sound effects and a pre-recorded song added here and there They add in a track of the crowd yelling and waving goodbye as the cruise ship pulls away from the dock. and in several places, they show the actors speaking lines, but we are never shown the cards for what the actor has just said. Was it edited for length, or something?? Garbo, Lewis Stone, and Nils Asther star in a silly little plot where the Prince tries to seduce the wife of his guest. If you do the math, Lewis Stone was 25 years older than Garbo, so the age difference probably explains why, in the story, the Prince is seen as extra attractive, in spite of his cruelty, which Lillie (Garbo) witnessed. Directed by Sidney Franklin, who had a long, prolific career directing and producing. It's important to see Garbo, and Lewis Stone made some great films as well (Grand Hotel !) Catch it on Turner Classics now and then. It's pretty good.
The Corvair in Action! (1960)
although probably quite catchy for its day, this 1960 promo for the corvair is just annoying. every time they switch to a new camera angle, we see a different car, in a different color, with a different year plate. We see it driving through a field, in case you want to do that. We see the wheels spinning through mud, in case you'll need to do that. It's only six minutes, but you get to see the car running through its paces, although it seems to be made for either a racer, or someone driving through other peoples' back yards! a bit of retro. shown on Turner Classic Movies in between....
good acting... foreign film with a message
The best thing about Amnesia is the great acting by the two leads Marthe Keller and Max Riemelt. Very well done, she as Martha, he as Jo, the next door neighbor on Ibiza. They are both from Germany, and because of their age difference, they have different takes on the Nazis. Martha was just a young girl, and was so traumatized she had to leave and vowed never to speak the language again. Jo, much younger, knows some of the history, but has moved on, and doesn't have the shock, hatred and knowledge that Martha has. Things get more complicated when Jo's family shows up and of course when it comes out that they are all German, they only seem to be able to talk about WW II. Some (un-necessary) complications.... because Martha knows German but doesn't want to speak it, people keep feeling tricked by her, as she is eavesdropping on their conversations. Another reviewer here has already discussed the symbolism of "Club Amnesia" and the title of this film. Ibiza IS a nightclub village, after all. Jo is a DJ, trying to get his own mixes played. a few loose ends still hanging around, but the ending scene shows that everything worked out for the best. I'm glad we spent most of the film on the residential part of the island.... having been there, the downtown tourist area is way too crowded and it was great to see the part where people actually live. It was kind of fun to hear the mix of Spanish, English and deutsche. Directed by Barbet Schroeder, who used the same house in other films. AND... was actually owned by Schroeder's family. Good stuff. Showing on netflix.