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The Good Companions (1957)
A fun and engaging B-Film.
Well, the star of this film from start to finish was 18 year old Janette Scott of "The Day of the Triffids" fame. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Celia Johnson some 12 years later from the classic film "Brief Encounter", and looking very good indeed. She brings the same understated charm to this part as she did to that one. You genuinely feel the admiration between her and the character Jess Oakroyd. Janette Scott brings her all to this part; dancing a few simply numbers very nicely and lip syncing with aplomb. She does lack the gravity of a superstar, but this part is perfect for her as the up-and-comer. The movie does quite a good job of covering what in novel form is some 640 pages. Of course the movie can't compete with the book in its detail, but it does nicely cover the story line and give each character a chance to shine, and it does manage to capture that "good companion" atmosphere by casting good character actors who are obviously having a good time making the film. All in all much fun and many musical stage numbers. The ones at the end of the film were even good enough to remind me of similar numbers in the movie "Funny Face". Don't miss this one if you have a chance.
The Arizona Kid (1930)
This movie catches the rhythm of life.
Warner Baxter does a bang up job as the Arizona Kid. The facial and vocal characteristics are charming and spot on all the time. He portrays a criminal with a heart. And there is many a twist in this tale of love. The character actors that come in and out of scenes briefly are all great. There are some great location shots and an authentic stage coach that helps introduce our main character in the beginning and is a vital link to the outcome of the film. The scenes are varied and short, so the pace of the film is good, but enough time is taken in the scenes between the Arizona Kid and Virginia (Carole Lombard) to allow us to believe they are falling in love. Unfortunately, Carole Lombard's acting is at its worst in this film. Her lines are delivered as if she was staring in a grade school play. However, the film keeps up ones interest and Carole plays quite a different part than is her norm, so it is well worth a viewing.
From Hell to Heaven (1933)
Good effort to keep viewer's interest with multiple story-lines.
This film started out slowly and I was expecting a real stinker. However, each and every story-line as it developed caught my interest and sympathy. Carole Lombard's part here is very small and she is perhaps the least interesting character of them all. I must admit, there may be something I'm missing because the excellent print that I viewed was 51 minutes long and the documentation says it should be 70 minutes in length. Jack Oakie's part as the announcer at the track was very smooth and entertaining. He brings a little comic relief. It was nice to see Sidney Blackmer from the Cary Grant movie "People will Talk" and an episode of "The Outer Limits" as Lombard's love interest. Each couple bets on a different horse in the race and I really was on edge to see who of the many likable characters would win. The innovative scene at the track where the camera is placed on a long boom which swings in and out at different locations in the stands and focuses on one couple at a time is interesting if not dizzying.
Nous irons à Monte Carlo (1951)
High class production in every way.
The picture and sound quality of this French language addition is quite good. By the quality of the production and direction I would say this was considered a first rate film in its day. The songs are quite catchy and the performers are obviously happy to be preforming and are giving it their all. I could hardly detect a flaw in the final musical number where everyone is lip sinking to a record off stage while half the band members are out searching for the baby. If you enjoy listening to songs from other countries that are not necessarily in your native tongue, you will find a lot to enjoy in this picture. There are cute musical numbers throughout. At one point the whole band sings to the baby in an attempt to get him to eat. I must say that Audrey Hepburn's makeup and lighting have something to be desired here. She is still beautiful but not flawless. She does not have the benefit of the long close-ups, and slow, deliberate lines that she does in "Roman Holidy" and she is not sweet and vulnerable as she is in "Young Wives Tale". She appears in four or five short scenes and for the most part speaks English when she does appear. Although a smattering of French is thrown in. She does not get a chance to win our sympathy, but it is interesting to watch her in this early film. She speaks quickly, sharply and runs in and out of scenes with verve. You can get an excellent copy of this film from cdjapan.
Safety in Numbers (1930)
Surprised by the high quality of this production.
First of all I was pleased with the large amount of screen time that Carole Lombard had in the film. I would say she gets the best lines of the three girls and the best dresses. Her delivery was also not as stilted as in many other of her early films. Perhaps the quick pace and light atmosphere of the film kept the dialogue more natural. All three girls sing a song to our leading man in an attempt to win his love, but sadly Miss Lombard only talk-sings her song. I thought many of the songs were enjoyable, although none of them were up to the standards of Lombard's other musical "We're Not Dressing". I was impressed, however, by the special effect of the silhouetted dancers dancing over a montage of New York at one point during the feature number. This film did have a heart, but it would have been so much better if we had been able to see any real development of the relationship between Buddy Rogers and the girl he chooses. As it was I can't say there was any reason to chose her over the others. He said he loved her; but why?
The Interpreter (2005)
Somewhat of a disappointment.
I must say that I had high hopes for this film after reading so many glowing reviews and noting the interesting storyline. However, overall it was a disappointment. I was not impressed with Nicole Kidman's accent, although, I have no idea if it was technically correct or not. Her overall performance struck me as flat. She adopts a monotone voice and stone face (perhaps this is due to too many face-lifts?) which is in general a downer. What happened to that emotionally charged actress from "Bangkok Hilton"? I also felt absolutely no chemistry between her and co-star Sean Penn. I understand that they are both portraying emotionally damaged people who are not seeking to publicly vent their feelings and all of that, but really! If the two main characters in a political thriller are flat, what is left to watch.
O.K. the movie did start to pick up during the second half when all the action began, but it wasn't enough for me. Another drawback to this film is that no one was willing to spend the money on a quality soundtrack. What there is of a soundtrack is extremely subdued. Again this just helps things to fall flat. The story itself was too convoluted to follow, or for that matter to care about. It was all just a jumble at the end. Who were all these people, and who cared when they died? Who cares what happened to that African country? We were never shown anything beautiful in it to care about.
A wonderful romantic comedy.
Having read all the bad reviews, I expected this movie to be lousy. I could not have been more wrong. In fact when I walked out of the theater I said to myself that it would be hard for me to imagine how they could have done it any better.
First of all, all the original actors from this series are dead, so I did not expect to relive the glories of the 60's with considerably more wrinkled versions of the original people. Instead what we are given is a light romantic comedy. I thought all the actors did a good job. They were interesting and believable. Both Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell took their parts seriously and had a nice chemistry on screen. Now I am not usually a fan of Will Ferrell, because he is so over the top. Here he toned it down to a believable level. He is a little nutty, because he is playing an actor who loves only himself and whose only concern is self-promotion, but this did not overshadow his humanity in the end. Nicole Kidman was attractive (although she needs to get more control over her lighting) and her spunk and tenacity kept me rooting for her to succeed throughout the entire picture.
I thought the story had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing what exactly was going to happen. And I thought the use of magic was restrained but done in a visually pleasing and clever way given the story line. By the way, I loved the dance number. It looked to me like the two of them were having fun being together which was the whole point of it.
In a day and age when so many movies are boring or crude, this is a fun time for the whole family. I will definitely want to see this on again. Shame to the people who take joy in bad mouthing this sweet gem! My 25 year old niece also thought it was good.
The Racketeer (1929)
Stereotypical gangster picture with a romantic twist.
I enjoyed this 66 minute film despite the overly theatrical delivery of almost every line. One gets the impression that this film was directed by an eighth grade home economics teacher. Despite this annoying drawback, the story is sweet and there is a genuine chemistry between the leading lady, Carole Lombard, and the head gangster played by Robert Armstrong.
Carole Lombard is attractively photographed and has a large amount of quality screen time here. She is pulled in two directions by two men who genuinely care for her. One is a concert violinist who we are introduced to early on in the picture as a man who has been reduced to nothing more than a bum in the gutter. The other is the suave gangster who for the first time has found something in this life greater than himself. The question is: who needs her most and who truly loves her? And in what direction will fate allow her to go.
The dramatic ending will tug at your heart-strings. This was Carole's last picture for Pathe studios.
For dance fans only.
Joe is a dancer in Cuba with a chip on his shoulder. Diana is fascinated by this diamond in the rough. However, pride on both sides seems to thwart the union and Diana in despair returns to New York City and her less than exciting fiancé. Joe follows.
The main problem with this film is George Raft. His stone faced and monotone delivery mean that there is absolutely no chance for any chemistry to develop between himself and Lombard. And it is supposedly this magic between the two that propels them in and out of each others lives and causes both to risk their lives in the end to be together. The film is also weighed down by more that one overly long dance sequence. George Raft himself is an adequate dancer, but comes off as little more than a "dandy". He has non of the fire or charisma of say a Desi Arnaz, who truly comes alive with the spirit of Latin dance and rhythms.
Diana's father is here played by Samuel Hinds who also played the father in the Andy Hardy series. Monroe Owsley, who also co-stared with Lombard in the movie "Brief Moment", plays Diana's wealthy fiancé. His part here is considerably smaller, and amounts for the most part to "window dressing".
Carole Lombard does a good job here. If she had had a better leading man this film might even have been enjoyable. The production values and quality of the acting in general were actually pretty good. Supposedly George Raft was quite the ladies man in real life, and even enjoyed a clandestine affair with Lombard, but in this film he is a dud.
Love in conflict with reality; or ones perception of it.
I liked this little movie quite a lot. It has a substance and quality that some of Lombard's other early movies lack. It is obvious that some care was taken with this screenplay. I would say that the key word for this film is "misunderstanding". It explores the question of whether someone can escape their past and whether love conquers all. This is the first of five pictures that Lombard would make for Columbia Pictures.
The chemistry is good between Pat O'Brien who plays "Jimmy" the cabdriver and Carole Lombard who plays "Mae" the street-girl. Mae's sentence has been suspended by the Judge on the condition that she leave New York City. Of course she refuses. On her way home she takes a cab, but has no money to pay. She stiffs the cabdriver. Later she goes back to square things and a relationship develops between the two. We watch these two grow closer and more dependent on each other, we root for Jimmy as he struggles to fulfill his dream to become a business man, and we cry as a financial crisis and murder come between them.