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A Date with Judy (1948)
A charmer from 1948!!!
I first saw 'A Date With Judy' at the Radio City Music Hall in late August 1948 when I was eight years old.....what an epiphany!!! Years later I revisited the film via television...how could it ever hold up...but...it remains a total charmer!! Music via Powell is lovely, Elizabeth is breathtakingly beautiful...and charming.....then there is the rest of a super cast...Wallace Beery, Robert Stack, Selena Royale, George Cleveland (the wonderful grandfather from Lassie), Scotty Becket, Xavier Cugat...and lest we not forget, the superlative Carmen Miranda! "It's A Most Unusual Day" ( remember Hitchcock's use of this as Cary Grant walks through the Plaza just before his kidnapping?), Judaline, Love is Where You Find It" and most memorably of all.."Cuanto Le Gusto" (I have murdered the spelling but 'a rose is a rose'!) Super music and memories of the radio program and comic book of the same name.
This is a delightful musical , and was very successful, in 1948 and is a treasure for today...and it's been released on DVD! It would look sumptuous in Blueray...maybe soon?
The Blackwater Lightship (2004)
Beautiful setting, superior acting and screenplay!
I saw 'The Blackwater Lightship' originally on the Hallmark Playhouse on television..complete with numerous commercials! I loved the film so I bought the DVD from Hallmark...minus commercials...what a treat...the film doesn't play like usual TV movies...with a 'hanger' right before the commercial to hold your interest and get one to return to the film after the commercial.
This film plays smoothly as one piece....not fragmented and spotty like most TV films.
The cast is magnificent....the sublime Angela Lansbury playing the Irish granny...Diane Wiest as the daughter of GRanny, and with several actors who were unfamiliar to me.
However two actors I am familiar with are Sam Robards (have to see more of his work) and Brian F. O' Bryan (I know I didn't get this name correctly, but he is currently collecting all the awards on Broadway this season for his superb work in 'Doubt') They are exceptional as two gay friends of Wiest's son who is dying of Aids.
With an Irish seaside setting (the Blackwater Lightship) and superb character transformations...this is a film I recommend unhesitatingly.
Murder at the Gallop (1963)
A Delightful Agatha Christie/Margaret Rutherford British who-dunnit
Murder At The Gallop was one in a series of Miss Marple/Margaret Rutherford British mysteries...Rutherford certainly appears and acts quite differently from the character of Miss Marple which Agatha Christie created. If you want to see the Christie books presented accurately on screen, view the versions with Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. They work perfectly with the characters, settings and time period of the orginals.
However, authenticity is not one of the reasons for seeing this series of films. Margaret Rutherford is a screen gem...working with her real life husband, Stringer Davis, as co-sleuth (his character never appeared in any of the Christie novels) they form a wonderful partnership. I only wish they had continued this series. 'Gallop' features some excellent supporting actors -- Flora Robson, Finlay Curie and especially Robert Morley. It's filmed in beautiful black and white which captures the early 1960's quite well.
For an entertaining evening of pure delight this is a mystery to cherish!
The Brasher Doubloon (1947)
that old film noir magic
The late 1940's produced some of Hollywood's best film noir....Out of the Past, Murder my Sweet, The Blue Dahlia, Crossfire, The Dark Corner, Dark Passage, The Big Sleep....and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, The Brasher Doubloon was not one of them! However, the 1947 film with George Montgomery as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, has gotten a bad rap! It has terrific atmosphere...that old mansion, the Santa Ana winds, terrific character actors and that exceptional personality - actress Florence Bates.
True, George Montgomery doesn't possess the world weariness of Humphrey Bogart or Dick Powell (both of whom played Marlowe previously), but there is a winsomeness about his character that keeps surviving the constantly battering given to him that works for the film. Nancy Guild as the young woman in distress possesses a femme fatale quality which was often found in noir films of the time...ie..Martha Vickers in 'Big Sleep', Mary Astor in 'Falcon' as well as Veronica Lake and June Duprez "Murder My Sweet".
P.S. Your Cat Is Dead! (2002)
Small, personal movie --very like an off-Broadway play.
This is a small film dealing with people going through breakdowns of various relationships. The main character is on the verge of being evicted from his apartment, having his girl-friend leaving him for another man, learning that his feline companion has died from a urinary infection at the vet's, and being burgled for a second time in two day's.
Steve Guttenberg does a super job as Jimmy, the main character. In fact, the entire cast does excellent work, especially, Ms Watrous, as the Jimmy's girl friend, and Lombardy, the young actor who plays the burglar.
The sense of outrage and loss which Jimmy feels comes across powerfully, as he takes his frustration out on the captured burglar who is bound and strapped semi-nude over the kitchen sink. What could have become ludicrous becomes very touching as each of them slowly realizes that they have much more in common than they could ever have realized. They are each others salvation! (Actually, it seems that the core of this awareness has been edited out because things happen a little too quickly! Several lines don't make sense)
I would say that the film does not go far enough in conveying the emotion that is developing between Jimmy and the burglar. There is a holding back which does not seem realistic. Even on the special feature section of the DVD the cast was responding to the final scenes and began shouting out comments as to the lack of physical expression between the two men.
Murder She Said (1961)
A delightful cozy Christie adaptation
'Murder She Said' is not a great or classic film, yet it is one that I return to all the time. The setting is England, late fall, in the latter 1950's. It stars the delightful Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple...Mrs. Christie (Mallowan) never felt she resembled Jane Marple in the least...but she did dedicate one of her later books to her. Also appearing in the film is Stringer Davis, Ms. Rutherford's real life husband, who is totally endearing and appeared in three subsequent Marple films with his wife.
Coincidentally Joan Hickson appears in this film and she later went on to much acclaim portraying Jane Marple in the BBC series of Marple mysteries.
Although the film differs in many ways from the original book (you'll have to view the BBC video '4:50 from Paddington' with Joan Hickson for some integrity to the original Christie story ) it is a very entertaining light experience with a bevy of fascinating British characters.
A delightful adaptation of Ms. Christie's novel
The direction, acting and total production is wonderfully done in this adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel. The leading actress is superb...from the first scene which juxtaposes the arrival of Miss Marple and Lady Bess Sedgewick arrive at Bertram's Hotel is a joy of contrasts and adept editing. Throughout the film this actress (playing Lady Bess} is mesmerizing! The whole production does a fine job of recapturing the late 1950's England. A fine addition to the Joan Hickson/Miss Marple series!
What a gift to have the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot series on DVD.