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Phone Call from a Stranger (1952)
Biggest pile of poop I'd seen in a long time
This movie was so awful I thought it might have been a satire of the excellent melodramatic movies of that era! This film just got worse and worse the longer I viewed it.
I really thought I was viewing a satire when Bette Davis ran off from her hubby with some hottie (she understandably dumped Keenan Wynn for the cutie pie of a guy). As cream puff drove towards Chi-town with Bette, who'd hit her head AFTER a successful dive in a crystal- clear lake (major klutz!), there was a GREAT but silly scene where the two headed off into the night while names of tawdry motels flashed their neon names before us, e.g. "Toddle Inn"... "Meander Inn"... "Crawl Inn"... "Stagger Inn"... names that stunk with the slutty behavior the two were over their heads and in their laps for.
THAT was my fave part of this trash-o-rama drama. Too bad there wasn't one named for Bette's persona, the "Slut Inn." She filled the bill and THEN some.
Actually, this movie shows the sexism in such flicks in how not only Bette but also Shelley Winters were portrayed. It was okay for handsome Gary Merrill to carry on, but NO, not those vixen tramps!
Rent this flick if you need a good laugh.
One Week (2008)
I'm NOT Canadian but am thrilled about "One Week"
This film fell out of the sky for me just before I learned of a life-long friend's short-term diagnosis of stomach cancer.
I must have read a mini-review of "One Week," rented it and then mistakenly stuffed it in a coat pocket with another rental. Only when I misplaced my specs did I find the two rentals when looking for (and finding) my glasses. What a nice reward.
I was immediately captivated by Joshua's character and the script. It was not the typical slightly-better-than an old TV movie-of-the-week spiel. And hey, I've enjoyed those, but we've all been there and sniffled over that, e.g. "Terms of Endearment."
I've got a once-terminal disease which killed my partner 18 years ago. Despite all its gloominess, AIDS has taught me how to help others heal and lean into what can be a "good departure," no matter what the disease or situation. This flick shows much of that humility and spirit. I'm recommending it to my friend to consider viewing, especially since I recall about 35 years ago when he and his cousin did a cross-the-States journey.
Since I moved to Seattle a dozen years ago, I've wanted to travel more in Canada. This not only satisfies some of that urge but is helping me plan for a cross-Canada trip.
Great 'spin' on a great era (but avoid the PBS airings unless you like the incessant 10-min. beg-athon breaks)
This is a great doc on the mid-'50s through '70s/'80s era, with a big emphasis on it being the stimulus for rock n' roll, based on the black-based R&B radio stations.
It's great to see/hear Cousin Brucie, Dan Ingram, and other deejays I grew up with while living in New Jersey and in the D.C. market. It's broader than just showcasing the Northeast scene, e.g. Wolfman Jack when he aired from a Mexican-based station with an INCREDIBLE (25,000 watts?) signal!
See if it is for rent by Netflix, other online rental sites or your local video store. I'd recommend it rather than seeing it on your local PBS station (sorry, but I'm a decent donor and tire of the fund-raising breaks).
Ring of Fire (1961)
Not as "tepid" as Comcast said it'd be...it's "smokin'" for '61!
Seems most reviewers have a strong connection to southwestern Wash. State or northern Ore. as reasons they like the film. I live in Seattle, but have little to say about the geography. But I am amazed how 'naughty' this film is for 1961!
And the double entendres coming out of Chickee-Pooh's lips are so funny, e.g. something like "'That daddy's a (something-something) beatin' off dead beat!" and other nasty-talk from her (one about 'balling'). She should have her mouth washed out with Gleem, or even Mr. Clean!
I think the U.S. Forest Service must have negotiated into the script a "Only YOU Prevent Forest Fires!" but couldn't get Smokey the Bear into the script to finger-point, since it would seem a bit unbelievable to have Yogi or any other bear talking in a drama. So instead David J. gets a line off about a still-lit fag not being squashed out, and later a still-lit cigarette a future problem.
All-in-all, it's a sleeper and I'm going to bed.
The Silent Call (1961)
Moving cross-country in a Renault Dauphine?
That's the first thing SCARY about this movie. No wonder everyone is cranky; moving long-distance in a rear-engine, 55 hp Renault Dauphine; two adults, one cranky kid (I'd be, too, if Mom and Dad made me leave the dog behind with a drunkard-like neighbor).
One thing that sort of amazes me is this movie seems to touch also upon racial intermarriage; Is Mom a blend of white/Asian-American while Dad's a white guy? Or did Mom get a fairly severe eyebrow trimming (like with a Weed-Wacker)?
And Dad's an ass to his wife! Seems like the wife-beater type (oh, yeah, I forgot -- it's the movies... and 1961).
And the music soundtrack is revolting. Even in sad or almost tragic scenes, the goofy happy soundtrack wears me down. Maybe for kids, it won't.
WHY EVER VIEW THIS MOVIE? Oh, yeah... it's for kids. Then no wonder they later rebelled a few years' later. This movie was the cause of the hippie movement, and every other problem that happened later on in the late '60s (sort-of kidding... sort of).
I'd recommend "The Incredible Journey" (the original one, even with the slightly-nagging narration). if one's going for an early- 60s story of similar "moving away, leaving the animals" nature, go with the Disney classic!
This kid's gonna be a thug, but at least he's got "long hair" before the Beatles hit our shores!"
Native Alaskans and friends fight Jim Crow from the '40s on
I didn't catch the first 15 min. of this program, but ironically, not being able to handle political TV ads for the 2010 election being held the next day (Nov. 2, 2010), I channel- surfed to KUOW-TV, Seattle's PBS station, since I knew they wouldn't be airing political ads.
Instead I found this fantastic documentary which helped me, an Anglo with some Native American (1/8th Cherokee) blood, understand a segment of U.S. society which I am intrigued with but know so little about because of their stories being dated and not being shared as widely as other civil rights struggles in the U.S.
This is a VERY GOOD documentary which uses a lot of reenactment of scenes from as far back as 70-some years ago, and overall uses these scenarios very well.
There was one scene of a white Alaska Territorylegislator who wasn't in period wardrobe (circa late '40s/early '50s), which was a failing, because the remainder of the documentary did such a good job of that attention to detail. The poorly-suited talent wasn't a key character. Yet it didn't seem clear why this extra was included instead of being edited out since his appearance in current-day business attire was odd and extraneous.
Other than this one mistake, the docudrama honored those who'd acted out their fore bearers' roles. After seeing the producers' budget for the 60-minute piece, they did an amazing job for their set design, wardrobe and other details.
This is definitely an hour of worthwhile viewing.
Last Holiday (1950)
Wonderful...one of Sir Guinness' best! Much better than the 2006 remake.
This is the original...Sir Alec Guinness' original version is much better than Queen Latifah's 2006 remake, though that version is also a fun movie.
I've seen a fair amount of Sir Guinness' movies, and I find this one of his best.
As someone with a life-threatening disease for the past 24 years, this film is an inspiration for me to keep facing every new day, no matter what the prospects I've faced in the ups and downs.
God bless Guinness (the actor and the liquid inspiration, in moderation!).
The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
Noble attempt at recreating Hemingway's classic, but...
For a mid-'50s (okay, that tired phrase, "mid-century") film, it is a half-decent depiction of Hemingway's classic, though Spencer Tracy's Cuban accent is obviously forced, if even available, and Tracy needed a good week under a tanning bed if the producer expected us to believe that even a gringo fisherman would look as pale as Tracy's character looked. The scenery was not as much in the studio appearance as I would have expected, except with the fish-fighting scenes looking forward in the boat to the fish. Wasn't the Old Man (Tracy) fighting a swordfish in one scene, or am I mistaken? I'm told by TMC's anchor that it was a fake fish because they couldn't catch a decent fish when shooting for the flick, and Hemingway wasn't a fan of the movie, making comments about Tracy not passing for a Cubano at all. But at least on my old Sony 19" Trinitron television (no digital here), the expired fish, its long backbone exposed, was perfect! And I love the ending shots of the fishermen silhouetted against the sunset, which as a former west Floridian, was totally real.
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
Q: Was Douglas' wife more explicitly semi-naked for '59?
This comment is not offered for titillation's sake but questioning the film's showing Kirk Douglas' Native American wife in the opening minutes when she was raped and murdered. Earl Holliman's character stripped off her blouse, though not before the camera lens but with a whip. Then there's a cut to a shot of her struggling to be modest. Next we heard shouts of horror from her character without viewing her. It was pretty clear what occurred.
I was amazed for a '59 film that it showed her upper torso almost naked with outlines of her lower breasts. I'm gay, so it wasn't a big turn-on for me, but didn't it seem a bit amazing for a time when standards and practices were semi-prudes well before more open sexuality came into Hollywood about five years later? Or did I get it wrong or do I not know how Hollywood captured sexual/horror scenes in the late '50s?
The Children's Hour (1961)
Fay Bainter (Mrs. Tilford) looked/acts reptilian in her adieu scene
EYE (sic) must need to get my eyes examined! In Mrs. Amelia Tilford's final scene, where she visits the two main characters/teachers, her skin appeared at first very reptilian/"scaly." It's only when I realized she had a veiled hat that didn't appear to show in contrast below her face and dark dress (in a B&W film) that I realized such scaliness wasn't her natural, old-age complexion! Maybe I need a higher-def tube to view the flick on, but I was so amused/alarmed at first by Fay's wrinkles appearing like a reptilian dermis. It was only in scenes after her close-up that I realized it wasn't (OR WAS IT???) a director's intent to have chameleon skin. Her last scene was rather chameleon (she needed to apologize for listening to kids' rumors which she acted upon to eventually have the school shut down and Shirley and Audreys' reputation ruined). Nice hat trick, Mrs. Tilford, but it didn't work because of past generations' shame against gays, lesbian and other "loves that dare not speak their names").