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The Yearling (1946)
It Will Warm Your Heart
This wonderful film is one of a handful that has the power to call me back to my childhood days and wrap me in warm memories of my Mom, Dad and little brother sitting around the television on Saturday night, watching the late show.
From the opening scenes of this beautifully photographed movie I found myself caught-up in the intriguing post Civil War story of a boy and his pet faun and their fantastic adventures on a scruffy Florida Everglades farm. The film stars Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman in the lead roles, with some of Hollywood's best character actors in the supporting roles.
Peck gives an Oscar caliber performance as the warmhearted father who does his best to make a better life for his family, with absolutely no help from the elements, which surround them. Jane Wyman brilliantly plays Orry, the hardened mother and wife who is so embittered by past tragedies in her life that she is unable to show any love for her one surviving child for fear of losing him as well. And Claude Jarman plays Jodie, the wistful young boy who is just one summer away from adolescence and all the emotional growing pains that come with it.
This story is laced with excitement and adventure sure to please the kids, but each of the adventures is also a great lesson in life that will stay with them for years to come. The cinematography is spectacular and received a well-deserved Academy Award and the wildlife scenes are incredible as well. Just watching Jodie romp through the woods with his faun is a joyous site to behold. The way Orry finally begins letting herself love her son will bring tears to your eyes. This movie was one of the most emotional experiences of my young life and I believe I am a better person from the lessons learned here.
I highly recommend this film, it is one to be experienced with your entire family.
The Fuller Brush Girl (1950)
Funny, Funny, Funny!!!
This was one of Lucille Ball's last theatrical films prior to the debut of "I Love Lucy", and from the looks of things it was the final primer for her role as Lucy Ricardo. "The Fuller Brush Girl" was filmed in 1950 as a sequel to the very popular "The Fuller Brush Man", which starred Lucille's male counterpart, Red Skelton.
It's the story of a young couple, Sally and Humphrey, who want to get married, buy a house and live happily ever after. But just as they are able to place a down payment on their dream house, Sally causes an electrical fire at the shipping company where she and Humphrey work and loses her job. Undaunted Sally decides to try her hand at door-to-door sales as a Fuller Brush Girl (she actually sells cosmetics, not brushes). Meanwhile back at the shipping company Humphrey is promoted to shipping manager, only he doesn't realize that he is being set-up as the fall guy by a smuggling ring. Through a hilarious set of circumstances the bumbling Fuller Brush Girl and the smuggling ring get mixed-up with each other and all hell breaks loose. In the ensuing tangle, there is murder, talking parrots, police chases, a very funny striptease and some of the funniest sight-gags ever put on film.
The cast includes a very young Eddie Albert as Humphrey, Jeff Donnell as Sally's best friend and a who's Who cast of character actors.
If you are looking for a movie with Lucille Ball at her comical best, this is the one.
As a trivia note, the musical number in the film "Put The Blame On Mame" is the same recording used to dub Rita Hayworth's voice in the film "Gilda".
An Excellent Murder Mystery!
What if once upon a time in Hollywood a young adventurous movie director decided to buck the studio system and pull together a creative independent Þlm? And suppose he hired the queen of B movies to star as the heroine, and he dressed her up in beautiful gowns and made her look very alluring. What if he then places her in a dark and brooding London setting where a murderous, madman is on the loose, killing pretty young women by advertising for them in the personal columns? Then just to spice up the cast he adds the king of horror movies as one of the villains, the quintessential movie playboy/cad as the love interest, and one of England's top stage actors to make things interesting. What if all these things did in fact come together and were Þlmed in glorious black & white, and the subsequent Þlm was rushed into theaters and after a very short run it quietly faded away without anyone ever really knowing much about it? Well now, after 52 years, this hidden jewel has now been rediscovered! The movie is entitled `Lured,' and it stars, Lucille Ball, Boris Karloff, Charles Colburn, George Sanders, Cedric Hardwicke and George Zucco. It was directed in 1947, by Douglas Sirk, written by Leo Rostin and produced by Hunt Stromberg. After viewing this movie I was struck by the outstanding performance of Lucille Ball in a very rare dramatic portrayal. Her Sandra Carpenter is a saucy dish with an penchant for adventure, and she gets her chance to experience all the adventure she can stand when Scotland Yard employs her to go undercover to help trap a lunatic, serial killer. The plot is intricate, with plenty of red herrings thrown in to mislead you to the wrong suspect. The gorgeous sets are all top notch and add to the over-all dark, moody atmosphere which permeates this Þlm. My hat is off to KINO for Þnding and bringing this nearly lost classic back to the public. They have just made it available on DVD and I can't wait to see it that format too. I highly recommend this Þlm for anyone who has never seen Lucille Ball in a dramatic performance and also for anyone who loves a good murder mystery, this is a great Þnd!
Lover Come Back (1946)
Starring Lucille Ball And A Beautiful Wardrobe
This little romantic comedy doesn't break any new ground with a plot that has been done a dozen times before. However, when you get past that it is a very watchable film mainly due to pretty Lucille Ball. This vehicle features a very sophisticated character for Lucy to play, and she handles the task flawlessly.
Lucy's wardrobe for this film is 40's high fashion at it's best and that combined with some very glamorous hairstyles make for a rare glimpse of Lucille Ball the Glamour Queen.
If you can find it give it a look, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Auntie Mame (1958)
A terribly dated And dreary movie
I saw this movie when I was a little kid and I thought it was wonderful. So after watching it again recently, I've come to the conclusion that it is a highly overrated movie that is extremely dated.
The actors in this film are all excellent in their own right but here they seem to be in competition to see who can eat the most scenery. Rosalind Russell's attempt at portraying a warm and wacky character is ruined by her phony aristocratic accent and her snobbish treatment of others in the film. The kid that plays Patrick is a whinner, I wanted Mame to spank his rear after listening to him drone on for most of the film. And those black-out used to convey the passage of time. They really got old after the forth or fifth time.
I know this movie is loved by many people out there, but for me it was a major disapointment.
Valley of the Sun (1942)
Lucille Ball In A Western?
This entertaining western is an interesting mix of comedy and adventure, complete with cowboys, indians and couple of black hats. Be sure and watch for the very funny wedding scene involving a bunch of ants. Starring Lucy in her only western movie role, and co-starring John Craig, Cedric Hardwicke and Dean Jagger.
Worth a peek
Du Barry Was a Lady (1943)
A Beautiful Movie
Now don't get me wrong, `Dubarry Was A Lady' Is not the best Movie Musical I 've ever seen, but it is one of the prettiest. I can't figure out how they where able to achieve such a creamy coloration in the film but the rich pastels used on the sets and costumes are just stunning. There are some wonderful big band numbers with Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra, featuring Dick Haymes. And a campy `Salmome' number by Virginia O'Brien. Gene Kelly looks great and does one nice dance routine, but he mostly sits around mooning over Lucille Ball. Speaking of Lucille Ball, this was her big debut at MGM, and MGM's first full Techincolor musical, and she looks incredible! Her firey red hair and trim figure were perfectly set off by the contemporary costumes, and she looks great in the powdered wigs too!
Give it a look!
Yolanda and the Thief (1945)
A Very Kinky Musical
This one is a strange one. Set in a fictional South American Country, Fred Astaire plays a con man who impersonates a guardian angel to Lucille Bremer's innocent, convent raised character. While he is trying to get to her vast fortune, he of course falls in love with her.
The story is over-shadowed by the bizarre musical numbers. There is a dream sequence which is one of the longest, most mesmerizing musical numbers ever put on film (eat your heart out Salvadore Dali). The number `Coffee Time' looks like it was fun to film and the dance floor will cause you to,have optical illusions.
The sets are very opulent and the Technicolor is breathtaking. Over-all I rate this film highly because it is so off-beat. I read that this film cost 6 million dollars to make, and was a huge box office failure, and that Fred Astaire nearly retired because of his experience with it.
The Magic Carpet (1951)
A Total Waste Of Time
This low budget adventure stars John Agar, Raymond Burr of TV's Perry Mason, and a very pregnant Lucille Ball The poor production values used to make this movie give it the look of a Technicolor, Three Stooges episode. It's really too bad I would have enjoyed a good Arabian Adventure, starring Lucille Ball!
A Grand Old-style Movie Musical
It has been a puzzlement to me ever since seeing Mame in it's premiere run way back in 1974, that so many people have so many different views of this movie. It is either absolutely loved or positively hated by the people who see it. I believe Lucille Ball is, and always will be Mame. She plays the character exactly the way she should be played, hard, tender, funny, bitchy, loving, sophisticated and free-spirited.
This film has a bright cheery look and feel with big splashy production numbers which lovingly look back at the grand old Hollywood Musicals of the past. The production values are stunning, with beautiful sets and costumes that are truer to the period than the ones in Auntie Mame. The supporting cast is great, with Bea Arthur as Vera Charles and Jane Connell as Gooch. And concerning the complaints about the filming of Lucy through gauze, just go back to the MGM Musicals of the 40's and 50's and you'll see almost every major female star, young and old, filmed through heavy gauze.
I've come to the conclusion that this movie has been labeled a bomb for so long that some people already have their minds made up not to like it before the opening credits have ended. And the ones who see it for the first time without any idea of it's troubled history, end up loving it!