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Somebody was out to get Joan, simply ghastly
2 October 2009
Ice Follies of 1939 is a Joan Crawford vehicle from MGM which has a Warners feel with a supporting cast from Columbia and shot at Republic.

This is the film that Joan is prepping for at the beginning of Mommie Dearest.

Jimmy Stewart is Joan's male lead in this picture. He looks like he has just turned 18.

Joan looks old enough to be his mother in some shots.

The plot is secondary to what they put poor Joan through.

30 some minutes into the movie she isn't even in it for a long stretch where to is totally focused on the Jimmy Stewart character and his ice follies. The background bit runs straight into an ice follies review of skating. It is pretty hum drum. Cramped and shot cheaply.

The whole movie feels cramped until the end where there is an insane Technicolor nightmare of mediocre skating in garish costumes in an ill conceived Cinderella plot involving dear Joan. She doesn't skate.

She looks lovely when sitting in the audience watching herself on screen though. Reddish highlights to her hair in a gorgeous green and gold sparkly Adrian creation that defies description. One number she is forced to wear looks like it came off of a Lorretta Young picture, complete with halo.

You see Joan in several different looks in this picture. Few of them are flattering to her. Some make her look downright hard bitten and hawkish.

There is one scene early on where Joan is sitting at a table in yet another cramped room with Jimmy and Lew Ayres. She looks young and vibrant, her hair perfect for her. She looks great. then it is all downhill until the final Technicolor shots of her in the audience at the end.

Somebody wanted to make her look bad.

You can tell by where they spent the money.

One of the black and white skate bits is wonderful. Far better than the other ones. Then there is the color skate film in a film sequence at the end.

This film is designed to make the star look bad on the screen and on paper.

Joan does have one great bit where she plays drunk. It looks like she is really having fun with it.

Trog is better.
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This movie is just plain fun, and funny.
12 August 2005
Amazing what you can do with the lowly soybean. Not only can you make gasoline out of it but you can make eight year old scotch, caviar, and horseradish. Just think of how many horses that could save.

This movie is a little gem. Jane Wyman is a hoot. After seeing her in nothing but fifties weepies and Falcon Crest her turn as a scatterbrain newlywed bride having her honeymoon interrupted by two of her best friends and then all and sundry shows her as an adept comedian.

Alexis Smith and Ann Sheridan as the girlfriends, Jack Carson (always a pleasure to see) and Eve Arden as the Russian soldier (Cyd Charise had to have watched this movie over and over because her Ninotchka accent is a dead on mimic of Eve Arden but with a more serious tone) round out the perfect cast for this screwball comedy.

This movie is just plain funny. It has fast and sassy snappy patter and just breezes along.

Check out those hairstyles! The clothes! How well photographed it is!

This film might seem odd to modern sensibilities, but let yourself go back to a simpler time where the motion picture code ruled and there was a censor right around every corner. I was rather surprised by a scene involving a bottle of scotch, the bell boy and the room he is told to take the bottle into.

The Doughgirls is fast, fun and funny. Just go along for the ride and you won't be disappointed. Let the hilarity ensue!
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Manhunter (1986)
tom noonan is the red dragon
25 July 2005
sorry to all the people that think ralph fiennes (still looking for someone to explain how that translates to ray fine, it has got to be a gimmick, and please don't give me a load of replies about it being some English/whatever bit, he is English/whatever and his family seems to be the only one that pulls this) but, tom noonan nailed the red dragon.

i read the book, i saw both movies, and i still think tom noonan nailed it.

so manhunter isn't a literal translation of the book. but, for my money tom noonan fits the character to a tee. he catches all the nuances and gets them all right.

his portrayal of an insular, pathetic, loner with a speech problem is quite believable.
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Milton Berle acting and gay subtext too
16 April 2005
I happened upon this film by accident whilst I was channel surfing. Having never seen "Uncle Milty" in an acting role before I just had to stop and watch.

While this films story is one of those behind the scenes show biz stories of a comic trying to get into the big time, what I found to be absolutely fascinating was the character of Rene played by Iphigenie Castiglioni in what can only be read as a very, very lesbian night club owner for whom Berle auditions doing a comedic routine playing the piano and singing Miss Otis Regrets, a song written by the very gay Cole Porter.

The nightclub owner Rene with her mannish hairstyle, tuxedo (worn during the day!) and long, long cigarette holder with her aperitif is the quintessential gay stereotype for the era. How the combination of Rene in her garb and the suggestive Cole Porter song got past the censors is beyond me, but I am sure it was quite appreciated by gay audience members as an acknowledgment of their presence in show business.
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One of Frank Strayers Best and gay subtext too
24 March 2005
The Ghost Walks is a nifty little mystery with a great twist, snappy dialog, and best of all a pansy played to the twittery hilt by character actor Johnny Arthur which never demeans or denigrates his character. Mr. Arthur is great in his role of Homer Erskine bringing great comic relief as the secretary of the Broadway producer Herman Wood, played by another great character actor Richard Carle.

They play off of each other superbly.

Although the acceptable words of the time sissy and cream puff are used to describe the character of Homer, it is never mean spirited or meant as denigration, and are not spoken by the manly males of the film but by his employer, who fires and rehires him every other scene and who displays an almost exasperated affection for his devoted employee.

There is a great scene where Homer tells his boss that he has devoted the best years of his life to him and has been everything but a mother to him.

The mystery angle of the film is very entertaining, and the twist at the end might just leave you in stitches.

For a low budget poverty row picture, this film has superb set decoration and great costuming.

Director Frank Strayer ably handles his cast and this film holds together much better than some of his other low budget mystery attempts, but he had a great script to work with and some wonderful actors to carry it through.

This film is a must see for devotees of poverty row films, old dark house mysteries (they actually managed to work in the lines "It was a dark and stormy night)and it has the added bonus of being an early representation of a gay character in film where nothing bad happens to them in the end.

This movie is available for download in the public domain film section of the Internet Archive at
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A nice little film from Grand National
7 March 2005
I must admit that I have a soft spot for the films of Grand national and their latter incarnation Producers Releasing Corporation.

That said,Sunset Murder Case is a nice little film although it is really not a mystery as you know early on who the bad guys are, even though it is a tad confusing as to what is going on.

Sunset Murder Case has nifty one liners and some nice dialog from some engaging characters, plus a not so bad musical number.

The main attraction of this film is Miss Sally Rand as the protagonist. She does a very nice dance number with her trade mark balloon while wearing a Grecian toga outfit, and later does what must have been her famous fan dance, although it seems to have been staged in Hollywood and shot with the camera in Cleveland, with palm fronds in between.

The main attraction of this film is Sally Rand, although the other players are quite good in their roles. The lisp that Miss Rand was supposed to have had is not noticeable in this film. The term ecdysiast was not meant to describe her or any earlier "stripper" as mentioned in the biography of Miss Rand in these pages, but was invented by H.L. Mencken at the request of Miss Gypsy Rose Lee as a polite description of her profession.

If you get a chance to see this film please do, it is a very nice slice of the past and the bubble dance will make it worth your while.
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the ultimate Japanese monster fest
7 March 2005
I remember seeing this film at an all day monster fest at the Elco Theatre in Elkhart, Indiana in 1969.

It still stands as the number one Japanese monster movie of all time in my opinion. After viewing it again after all these years it still can't be beat for ingenuity and all out good fun.

This film has it all, monsters, aliens, typical Japanese special effects of the era, and a plot that will tickle your fancy and leave you begging for more.

This film is the culmination of all the Japanese horror flicks of the time.

All of your major Japanese monsters are here, plus a few you might not have heard of.

The alien angle is a plus, it gives the film an angle that supersedes the usual claptrap of the period.

I recommend this film highly, it ranks right up there with Godzilla and Mothra.
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A Cole Porter musical with the songs intact!
3 January 2005
There have been quite a few Cole Porter musicals transplanted from Broadway to Hollywood film, but, they usually lose the Cole Porter songs in the process. Silk Stockings is one of the few which made it to the silver screen with the great music and lyrics of Porter intact.

Silk Stockings is a joyous musical version of the Garbo film Ninotchka.

The stars, Fred Astaire, Cyd Charise and Janis Page shine. The singing and dancing are superb.

Watch for the dance sequence with Fred and Cyd where her skirt magically changes from a plain skirt, to one with a pleat in the middle to kulots and then back to a skirt with a pleat. It is one of the most incredible edit jobs on film, totally seamless.

All in all this is one of the best of the MGM musicals.

Silk Stockings is an all around great musical film. I doubt you will be unable to hum Stereophonic Sound for days after viewing it.
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Betty Hutton is GREAT!
26 December 2004
My only exposure to Annie Get Your Gun has been through a soundtrack recording done by Mary Martin and John Raitt that I bought at a garage sale when I was a kid, and I was not familiar at all with Betty Hutton.

She is a revelation in this film, she is superb and does the songs of Irving Berlin justice.

I have seen the clip of I'm and Indian too done by Judy Garland in one of the Thats Entertainment films and she can't hold a candle to the powerhouse performance of Miss Hutton.

I highly recommend this film to all lovers of the movie musical and the songs of Irving Berlin (although the words were altered from the original Broadway version and two songs are missing, Moonshine Lullabye and I'm a bad, bad man) If you are familiar with the history of the filming of this motion picture, you can tell which song was kept as directed by the second director,Busby Berkley being the first and the one that directed Garland, it pales in comparison to the rest of the musical numbers.

All in all a great movie and one you can sing along with.
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