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Dames (1934)
9 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
For hard core Hollywood musical fans only, 3 January 2005

Dames has everything that is terrible and everything that is wonderful about pre-code Hollywood movies. But it is a historical document now. We can't pretend to judge it by the standards of today - or even the standards of a few years later.

First, it has Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. They play their parts in as artificial and mannered a style as you'd ever care to see. Ruby Keeler was no actor, and Dick Powell was simply going through the motions. The story is sheer idiocy, and the humor is slight at best. So many of these old musicals were just as bad. I have often wondered how they could have used Powell when Bing Crosby was already a much better singer. The studio system is to blame, of course.

But on the other hand we have the always delightful Joan Blondell, who was the ultimate hard-boiled showgirl back then, and the bizarre goofiness of Hugh Herbert. But mostly what we have is the highly stylized and imaginative choreography of Busby Berkeley at his finest. This is one of his finest moments on the silver screen. Not only are the sets and treatments astounding in conception, but they have a surreal, unexpected twist to them that keeps them fresh even today.

The magnificent direction of "I Only Have Eyes For You" is cleverly built around a series of photographs of Ruby Keeler's face that repeat, morph into large crowds of dancers holding pieces of the same photo, and keeps inventing new twists on the theme for ten minutes of amazing effects. When Ruby Keeler comes up out of a photograph of her own iris you have to wonder what Busby was smoking.

Perhaps the best way to see this movie would be to just catch glimpses of it as you fall in and out of a dream, late at night, with the sound turned down very low. But for someone who loves the genre like me, it's one of the best musicals ever made just because of the dance numbers.

40 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
Certainly among the most beautiful films ever, 23 December 2004

One of the most beautiful films ever made. Von Sternberg had a strange and painterly way of composing a frame when he shot his films. In earlier films the scenes abounded in detail, and often had layers that would stretch back into the distance, or simply add complexity and a sense of the tumult of the living all around. In this film he seemed to change his focus to the glamorous portrait, and brought to life some of the most stunning shots of actors I have ever seen.

If you wish to see the breathtaking beauty of Gene Tierney at its height that this is the film to see it. She's so willful and spoiled, suggesting the nymphomaniac that nobody could suggest any other way thanks to the censorship. Everyone in the film seems to licking their lips in anticipation of some decadent delight that will be happening off screen. And time and time again Sternberg throws up another static, stagy, yet impossibly beautiful portrait of one of his stars.

The scent of opium and sex practically oozes from every frame.

34 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
The Giddy Magic of Girls, 8 December 2004

When my wife and I sat down to watch this gem we were completely blown away. The manic magic of being a young girl with a dizzy, silly enthusiasm, especially one that is so pretentious on the outside yet deliciously seamy below the surface.

This movie is all about the thrill of finding a true friend and the adventures you have with someone who you look up to and who likes you, too. The movie captures the bright, magical world of New York City at the height of the glorious early 1960s.

If you loved the book "Harriet The Spy" when you were little, you'll find this movie to be a thrilling experience. Peter Sellers doesn't even matter - he's a cipher, a mere metaphor for the grown up world and it's mysteries and shortcomings.