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Bunny O'Hare (1971)
Bad Cinema, Good Time Travel
I agree with all the other comments that the premise was bizarre, the plot was beyond thin, the acting hammy, and the filming and budget woefully low quality.
However, I am walking through 1960's & 1970's movies in an effort to remember and better understand how much our world has changed. The Montgomery Wards? Cars without safety bumpers, banks without safety glass, strip malls without Wal-Mart or Home Depot . . . hippies (the cinema interpretation).
But mostly the blatant sexual harassment by Jack Cassidy's character that is eventually met with nympho encouragement, an evil grin, an eye twinkle, and an implied roll in the sheets. That a writer could script and a director could film such scenes reminds me just how far we have come in some 40+ years. The jokes about "A real cop ... a man" were predictable, for guffaws. And while a low brow comedy is not reality; to a much lesser degree, not that long ago, this was.
Brewster McCloud (1970)
Surreal does not capture the characters, setting, and plot of Brewster McCloud. Will you please pass me whatever they were smoking when they wrote and revised this script. It was either the work of genius or insanity.
I have waited over 5 years to see it, as I work through the AFI catalog. Altman's early film is hard to find here; not in my library, netflix, rarely shown. It was finally on TCM as a visiting programmers choice, SNL comedian Bill Hader.
A great time capsule of 1970 Houston, with period cars and so many familiar faces. But a film of bizarre surrealism that exceeds anything I've personally seen from France or Italy.
Still Center (2005)
Fascinating Slice of Life
This was shown 7/2010 on IFC "Short Film Showcase".
A very intriguing (if somewhat surreal) slice of life, from Romania, of a young unmarried professional woman finding out she is expecting triplets. As she tries to make sense of her situation, and ponders her future, she goes from one odd experience to another.
In any life changing event, each of us read extra significance into the random occurrences of that moment as a providential "sign", and look to others to reveal insight from inside ourselves.
Marriage? Abortion? Single Motherhood? What will happen to the children? What will happen to herself? How can she make such a tremendous decision in such a short period of time?
Platinum Blonde (1931)
Historical Purpose Only
Watching this as an exercise in historical cinema (1931) was worth it, and TCM had a wonderfully restored print with excellent contrast and sound.
Half of the scenes were great: well acted, tight dialog, tightly edited. But nearly half were unbearable. Overly long dialog, stiffly delivered, characters just standing and talking, scene allowed to run on and on. All conversations were shot with stationary long-shots followed by a pan when the character exits. This is still in the technical transition from stage delivery. It was obviously an early attempt at the genre of screwball comedy.
I was reminded of references to "early talkie" disasters made in later films (ex:Singin in the Rain). Too much talking, characters just dropped in a room together.
Again, half of the film was well paced, well edited, and well acted. And it was wonderful to see the Jean Harlow and Loretta Young, Robert Williams, and the many character actors as the newsmen and the snobby rich.
Tom Dick and Harry (1941)
I'm sorry, barely bearable
I love movies from the 40's, enjoy Ginger Rogers in both musical and straight roles (Kitty Foyle, Bachelor Mother), and romantic comedies are a favorite way to relax in the evening. This movie was bad. I am working through the AFI list, and had looked forward to this light hearted comedy.
The acting was fine, as each character was played perfectly, right down to the irritating ice cream man and little sister. But there was barely enough plot to fill out a 30 minute TV episode. The premise was OK, but it took me 3 fidgety nights to just sit through it. And what were surely attempts at zany plot twists in the 40's seemed to be just unending repetition. This is definitely not "bringing up baby" or even in the same league.
War Hunt (1962)
Great Screenplay, So-So Movie
TCM included War Hunt in their Memorial Day festival (maybe a little inappropriate for a tribute to our servicemen?). I found the subject, as a screen play, intriguing, but not the delivery. To me, it would have been better to read, hear it as a reading, or see it in community theater.
The movie resembled an episode of "Combat!", for props and scenery, film quality, and acting. And frankly, the "before they were famous" actors shown here had a reason for their anonymity, they still lacked confidence and training and delivered what was at best a TV movie quality product, in my opinion.
Contrast this to the realistic acting and tight cutting in "Hell is for Heroes". Again, to me a great concept, a good screenplay, but "movie of the week" product.
Going to Blazes! (1948)
Fantastic 1950 Slice of Life
This 1948 LA Fire Department documentary was just shown on TCM as a filler and was fantastic! To see those 1950's firehouses and firetrucks in action, being buffed, cleaned and maintained, that are now only seen in parades and classic car shows. Of course much of the film is still the same, the demands and discipline of the job, and how so many fires are caused by simple carelessness. I wonder if showing this film helped people clean and organize their homes. I was fascinated by the "state of the art" technology employed to locate and ring the right fire station from that frantic phone caller, employing a tremendous Rolodex file and crazy patch board. And I always love seeing those 1950's vibrant neighborhood shopping streets full of cars and shoppers. Fantastic visual images take your right back in time. Thank you TCM!
Ambitious ... and Exhausting
Thanks again to TCM and Silent Sunday for a clean print and quality soundtrack. This movie let us escape for 2 hours to 1920, the years between the two world wars. I found the early images wonderful, whether Valentino's famous tango, the famous horsemen, or the special effects for the apocalypse and the grim reaper. Of course, it is a fantastic antiwar theme film.
However, I was exhausted by the amount of detail. This early Hollywood effort seemed to want every page, every character, every twist of plot from the original book to kiss the screen. In the 1940's, movies were "inspired by the book". Modern screenwriters now have the skill of lifting one usable plot thread from a complex book. In this film, I felt the inclusion of so many plot details, moving at a rapid clip to fit them all in, involved too many characters, and was overly ambitious for a two hour story. Today, we would see such lengthly and numerous scenes only in a multi-day mini-series like "Shogun" or "Jesus of Nazareth".
Joaquin Murrieta (1938)
This was just shown on TCM "one reel wonder" and it caught me off guard. It was completely dramatized, as if bits of scenes (often 2 seconds long) were clipped from an actual western movie and spliced together at the typical lightning speed of newsreels and "passing parade". It was, of course, accompanied by the deadpan, loud, authoritative newsreel announcer with no actors' voices heard.
What is strange is that I cannot cross-reference the director, writer, or actors to any original film on Murrieta. So I'm guessing a "B" western film was begun and not completed, and these snippets of scenes, instead of going to waste, were pulled together into this "historical short". If not, it might have been a training exercise to test new actors and crew with scenes shot on existing scenery and equipment. In either case, it was an interesting story and 10 minutes long.
The Moonraker (1958)
A Moonraker is ....
"A Moonraker is a smuggler. One who dumps his contraband in the bottom of a lake then rakes it out by moonlight." (Definitely not to be confused with the James Bond escapade).
I believe this film is now in the public domain as I saw it as an "afternoon matinée" on my local school cable channel, where I usually see titles from the $1 bin.
While the movie was historically interesting, the action less enjoyable than Errol Flynn's Robin Hood and the staging and dialog delivery seemed slow and mechanical to me. If you are a fan of Elizabethan costume dramas, this will be a pleasant diversion for you.