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Wild Is the Wind (1957)
Its not enough to say that Johnny Mathis sings the title song over the opening credits.With Cukor directing this grand meeting of Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani thats says enough.
The plot has its melodramatic moments for sure and its another film with the wonderful Dolores Hart who only a few years alter would become a nun.This also has the merits of Anthony Franciosca really playing his best role for many years in films.
Franciosca, falls for Magnani in a lustful way while Quinn is away from the ranch.Its really the sweeping scenes and the acting of Quinn and Magnani that moves the film.
Looking back , it would have been a treasure to see Magnani act in more US Films ( The Rose Tattoo) but that didn't happen. Finally , in her eyes we see how she made " Open City" ( Rosselini) a memorable film. Produced by the best...Hal Wallis CP
The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
John Cromwell's direction sparks this entry into " The Prisoner of Zenda" This film redone by MGM with James Mason as Black Michael and in colour( Color)
This version has more wit and sweep even though its in black and white. For sure the screenwriters and Cromwell made Doug Fairbanks Jr into more of a rascal than a criminal and of course he escaped in the final reel. I like Coleman and Carroll in their leading roles as well as C A. Smith and Niven as the co conspirators
Raymond Massey looks like he is uncomfortable with his lines and would rather be doing Hamlet Nevertheless this is the best version and it still has legs and looks more Gothic than the MGM Vehicle which is saturated in colors and may cause headaches after the first reel
The Man Between (1953)
Again and again.
Carol Reed;s chestnut that is even more bleak than " The Third man" Mason as Evo Kern is involved with two Women, Neff and Claire Bloom..but he is fateful in his desire for Bloom.
All the elements are here with high contrast photography. the little boy( Reed Trademark) and a fine moody cast with a trenchant music score that you will not forget. ( perfect for 1955 ) I think this film gains in stature as the years go by and another testament to a really superb actor who was not appreciated enough..
In " Lolita" 1962 Mason shows a vibrant character against type, He is suave mostly, in most of his films..authoritarian , deliberate , calculating and most of all unflappable. In " Lolita" is is totally helpless and seemingly pathetic ...films like " The Man Between" established this personna
Mr James Mason C Pope
Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
Slowly but Surly
What better way to begin a film like this than the baratone narration of Mitchum talking about getting old. Mitchum plays a world weary Marlowe we have never seen before. He moves very very slowly.
Dick Richards has all the correct elements to describe this slimy bit of L. A. A boatload of eccentric and menacing characters seem to follow the narration. Slyia Myles gets all the "myles" out of a shopworn floozie who used to sing. Anthony Zerbe is on hand as a crime boss, Kate Murtagh brings new meaning to a hot house mom and you will see the rest..I'm just too tired to tell more..
Its not very often that an actor can reprise a character he could have played himself in the 40,s ..in the 70,s and the bags over Marlowes eyes tell of the decades passing.
Tonight Starring Jack Paar (1957)
Today in late night Television we have so many choices. Its almost limitless when you consider digital cable and TIVO.
A long long time ago when late night TV might have consisted of an ever glaring, Indian Head test pattern along with a One Kilohertz Tone, there was The Jack Paar Show. This show evolved from the Steve Allen " Tonight" show which had its source from the Colgate Comedy Show in the early fifties.
Quite unlike any show now or then we have the eccentric character Mr Jack Paar himself. Mr Paar can be seen in a few films of the late forties and was really known for very little else. In 1957, however, Paar launched what was to become a staple of late night TV. He had a cast of regular characters along with some of the most brilliant and witty personalities of the 20th Century!
From authors like Alexander King to the bizarre and brilliant Oscar Levant, all payed visits and just talked with Paar and friends. A Truly amazing show with a sincere following that did not let up till the last show in 1962.
This DVD set show us how fascinating these times were and is a window in time for TV viewers to recall ( if they are old enough) how unique and entertaining one could be by being.....oneself.
Evocative, Timeless and Claustrophobic and when was the last time those three words were used to describe anything on television.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
Hurd Hatfield and beyond..
A Gothic metaphor and a narrative that leaves it all out and at the same time leaves ...it all out.
Never before has George Sanders been more decadent, more cynical or more better in a role. He is at the same time immoral and quixotic to say the least. He seems to goad our leading man Mr, Hatfield into the predicament he finds himself in! Oscar Wilde would not have served up these nuances but his framework allows for stark unreal qualities that are disturbing and tutorial.
Angela Lansbury's Cybil Vane puts the film in motion as the first major sin committed by Dorian Gray. After that each new sin becomes easier to commit until total indulgence and total detachment become realized.
No crime is too small or too large to sustain Dorian Gray on his journey of destruction and excess. Of course " Sir Tristan" is finally exposed, however pathetic he may be in the final reel looking for one "reversal" in his hideous riddle. Punishment befalls him...but what about his evil partner ( George Sanders) I say partner as to indicate Sanders' character never has remorse but pity for those who digest his cynical platitudes.It is not his vile persona that is revealed in color in the final reel?
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
One of a kind !!
I guess the great John Huston knew what he was doing when making this film. Get the right cast and so he did.! The timeless touches in this film make it so watchable so often that we forget that a studio like MGM rarley made a gutty film like this.
Every character in the " Asphalt Jungle" has his/her moments! When Angela Phinley says to Emerich( Calhern) what will happen and Emerich responds the appropriate " you'll have lots of vacation".
Marc Lawrence as cobby has never been better since his part as Ziggy in "Key Largo" Jean Hagen shows some real ability and we wonder why she was used in future films to a lessor effect.Hayden, as Dix Hanley has a warped credo for a man on the edge.Sam Jaffe steals the show as doc..smart enough in most items save for your girls dancing in bars.
Even the supporting cast shines under Huston, Mcintre and the police chief , Brad Dexter as the crooked investigator, Barry Kelly as the corrupt cop with James Whitmore playing a man whose body is warped but whose soul is still intact.
Thanks goodness there is no music( film score) during the jewel heist. This fact alone lets us know this is a real film..unlike the ones being released today.
Mikos Rosza's score is emotional for sure..and the final in a Kentucky field is very poetic a la Huston
The Twilight Zone (1959)
As Time Goes By!!
I am always confounded and touched emotionally when I re visit many of the Twilight Zone Episodes. The craftsmanship that went into these 26 minute teleplays is to be appreciated in so many ways.
The yearning and the nostalgia of " Walking Distance" The spirit of " Pitch for the Angels" , "Kick the Can" and so many others is remarkable. To those who wish to take a peek at what Television once was... try not to get depressed. Serling received many emmys for excellence for his work. Please don't think about how they hand out Emmys to such television trash today..its enough to make you reflect.
Serlings unique anthology was ironic,spiritual, reflective , socially important and in many ways a true mirror of times gone by.
I love the final moments from "Walking Distance" Gig Young is still at the merry go round..(frame slanted) , his dad comes along to explain to Young..that everyone has but ONE childhood..and one cant share that precious thing again...even with yourself!! (The frame is now in correct aspect) possibly hinting that some value of thought has been imparted.Cut to soda fountain...Young gets off the stool in pain holding his leg..and the soda jerk says " Where did you get that ..in the war?" (Young) No I got it falling off a merry go round.. (soda jerk) Oh..you mean that merry go round....they tore that down some years ago..... I guess too late for you??? Young( While limping out) Yes...very late for me...( some kind of line )
Now thats some "wisp of memory"
Our Man in Havana (1959)
She? Grahame Greene should have told us??
Is Carol Reed a she? Somebody should have told us.
Sir Alec shows us why he is one of the greats even with a mildly flawed screenplay..It doesn't matter. The stars go through their paces and its amusing to say the least.
There should be a "boxed" DVD set ( maybe there is ) for Eallings works in this period. Watching Ernie Kovas reminds me that he was truly a multi talented guy who could act out bizarre characters with anyone.
Its almost a shame that Guiness cant have at least three more roles in this film alone so we could all see his magic
Last Summer (1969)
It's almost surreal. I think this film can be viewed on a few levels.
If you are looking for a profound coming of age film ..this is not it. There is however a provocative image here and if you adjust your vision you might just possibly see...yourself..at an age of no regrets and all intoxications.
The " three " set up the world for themselves and no one else can be allowed in to spoil It That is until Catherine Burns comes along and throws a wrench in their postulates on life..
There is a scene where the "three" are running along the beach...look closely now ..closer ..did you find someone you know well or someone you used to know.
Provocative and wonderful and melancholy all at the same time.