Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
"How can anyone so ugly be so handsome?"
(Marta Toren to Bogie)....what a great line! I'm surprised it hasn't gone down in the lexicon of great movie quips...and it captures perfectly the paradoxical mystery of Bogie's eternal charm, as well as the mystery of how an essentially mediocre film can be redeemed by its own dry, sardonic charm (due largely to help from fine supporting players as much as from Bogie), some great B/W photography, and a persistently downbeat refusal to push any sort of patriotic agenda.(adding greatly to that charm quotient.) The postwar noir influence is in fine fettle here. So Bogie doesn't exactly have a great motivation for his final decision? He just changed his mind, that's all. Take it or leave it. "I've taken long chances before. Okay." What could be better than that? It's the way people act every day. Every good critical eye without a mote in it knows that this film is safely and securely within the universe of the best product Hollywood ever put out, a great, mordant, counterweight universe to the unwatchable sap they themselves were producing right alongside it. "Sirocco" is not even really that minor a star in that universe. Good, good, good.
one of the best TV Pilots ever
I saw this on network TV in 1980, must have been some kind of freak filler and it blew me away, I was amazed by the tight direction of Wanamaker, wow, gee whiz, and this was the prime of my buddy Burt, makes me wonder how many great pilots are locked away in vaults only awaiting the day of judgment when they are all unlocked and facing their maker, not their TV maker but the big maker, and judged, this one's going on the right hand of god, by God, I wrote Burt a fan letter about this episode, like the best TV film noir I ever saw...probably as good as the live TV of the 1950s except honed to a knife edge of perfection, like I said, you'll never see this but I did and I'm glad.
Any Number Can Play (1949)
A film to convince skeptics of Gable's talent
One of the great opening scenes of any Hollywood movie projects a kind of cinematic/theatrical authority in a league with O'Neill or Odets, first we see the black man, filled with jolly self denial, buffing the crap tables, his tragedy is implicit from the first moment, believing in his heart that he is on a social par with the other white employees... and with quick, methodical grace the other supporting characters are sharply introduced - they're waiting for lefty, or godot,or the Iceman, or their savior,who happens to be Gable in one of his greatest roles...this is the refined essence of that great personality on screen...the man could simply manufacture chemistry not only with his leading ladies but with other men as well...too bad the crisp, exciting climax at the crap table does not quite live up to this glorious existential opening but it's still an eminently enjoyable Hollywood wrap up..one of the most underrated MGM movies.
The Doctor's Dilemma (1958)
Why was it made at all? (re: previous comment)
For heaven's sake - sparkling and witty actors interpreting brilliant Shavian dialogue with exquisite timing, exploring with the greatest imaginable finesse a huge ethical issue which is as timely now as it was then ....I have not seen or read the unedited play so I cannot indulge in comparisons, but it would seem to me that this was a very professional and refined adaptation of a very funny and wise work, which should stimulate the viewer to explore not only Shaw's original, but also all his other brilliant and fearless sashays...and for that matter why not Oscar Wilde, George Gissing, the whole exquisite corpus of the British fin de siecle....why not accept such a film as a great gift, an invitation to broaden one's literary horizons and become aware of a wonderful, lost world of refinement that will never come again? Down with the philistines!!
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
Monumental performance by Reid
this is a showcase for some magnificent acting....it doesn't seem at all homophobic , but rather immensely poignant and sad...and in what other film do you get to see a great lesbian band in matching sweaters and guitars (good solo!) Difficult at the beginning, just seems shallow and bitchy, but stick with it and watch Beryl Reid's character disintegrate....the final scene reminded me of "The Blue Angel" or "The Entertainer" in its shattering degradation...congrats to Aldrich for having the guts to make this movie, I think it stands the test of time rather well. Coral Browne is also magnificent, and York holds her own. The lesbian bar scene is worth waiting for.
The Boss (1956)
One tough cookie exiled by time
In trying to jumpstart itself, this movie is somewhat heavy handed at the beginning, taking one notably big and questionable dramatic risk, but gains power slowly and turns into something of a monumental mini-epic with John Payne's changes of hair coloring registering his slow and merciless journey toward a godless end...what a performance, but it's not as good as Gloria McGehee's as the unwanted wife Lorry - which is about as good as you'll ever see from an actress on screen, period. Also great is Robin Morse as Johnny the Organization Man, a wonderful low key performance...where has this movie been all our lives? It's powerful, at times difficult to watch, brutal, and worth the ride.
The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947)
Something to say to us today
I loved the emphasis on community values in this film. The ideas that the main character pulls for are not a whit outdated and can certainly be applied to today's society. It seems that in life, as in this film, there is always an element who tries to pull apart the community spirit for their own ends. These ideas are presented here in a completely engaging manner and are there for all to see as simple common sense. Kudos to Thomas Mitchell for another grand performance. Too bad this is another forgotten film which should be resurrected for its ideas which are strangely hip and contemporary. And Janet Leigh does a wonderful job, as does the actress who plays her mother.
Party Girl (1958)
Ray, Master of Colour AND Black and white; some memories
I viewed this film in an archival print at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA years ago and my chief memory of it is the blazing colour. I cannot think of another director who used both colour and black and white in his various films to such great advantage. In my view the use of color in film has regressed sharply since the days in which this film was made. The recent film with Dennis Quaid and Julianne Moore, a Sirkian domestic drama, used Kodak film to similar effect, so it can still be done. Remembering The film's star, Robert Taylor, also brings to mind Judy Garland and Billie Holiday, all three at about this time bringing us their valedictory performances, bringing us to tears with their aging and beautiful souls, veterans of a time that will never come again.
On Dangerous Ground (1951)
Stillness as mis en scene
Nicholas Ray's 1952 film "On Dangerous Ground" (whose status in the true universe of film noir remains debatable) might be profitably viewed alongside his earlier work with Humphrey Bogart, "In A Lonely Place" (a film, in my opinion, decisively noir) as contrasting the fates of two similar men - with Robert Ryan's Jim Wilson ultimately finding reprieve for that loneliness ( a major theme of Ray's - nb Rebel Without A Cause) as set against Bogart's Dixon Steele, who receives only an extended sentence.
Both of these actors were supremely capable of rendering torment. Ryan, a champion collegiate boxer, was perhaps the more adept of the two at sheer physicality - in fact he was one of the great physical actors in cinema. But here, like Bogart earlier on, Ryan's weathered face bears the chief responsibility of registering tension, carefully tended and lit by Ray until lovingly unleashed by him in violent physical outbursts - notably, here, Ryan is actually on the offensive only in the first half of the film; there is a redemptive aspect to his physicality later on... Violence in this film is not used, as in "In A Lonely Place," as climactic signification of final damnation. Uncontrolled anger and a crushing nihilism are, initially, the reigning demons of both men - but Ryan's Wilson is redeemed by circumstance (and of course his own innate spiritual ability to BE redeemed.) A chance encounter with the sublime vulnerability of goodness - and the possibility of rendering humane service to it - allows Wilson an opening view onto his own vulnerability.
The penultimate framing shot of Ryan's hand clasping Lupino's, reminiscent of that famous tableau in "The Last Judgment", arguably places this film outside the universe of noir. Wilson has been blessed -not usually an attribute of noir - with the witness of a double example of vulnerability - polarized by Lupino's serene grace and the brutal grief of Ward Bond as the slain girl's father. How to act, and how not to react - there, in tableaux before him- two essentially decent characters but with this difference: Lupino in a state of grace and Bond afflicted by the lack of it, the latter's graceless decency only becoming evident near the end of the film when he kindly offers Ryan a ride.
Dostoievsky said that we are given the freedom by God to encounter that evil which is an inescapable part of our nature - only then can we make the fatal decision to transcend it. According to him, and as noted by his great critical disciple Berdyaev, without evil there is not God, because without it there would be no need for God. ON DANGEROUS GROUND seems tailor built to this spiritual dynamic in its divided mis en scene of fall and redemption, with the darkness of city streets giving way to the harsh purity of snow covered countryside-were we there with Wilson, we might even be vulnerable to snowblindness - as Lupino was blinded, by chance.
But over both sequences, of dark and light, Ray places his abiding backdrop of stillness - in the beginning the silent terrible momentum of the three policemen preparing for work, the married women its hapless victims never to be seen again...and then the moving of the patrol car through the dark silent streets, Bernard Herrmann's great score in temporary abeyance as they move in a kind of gelid ether, a frightful inertia, through that Dostoevskian universe of free choice which Dixon Steele also faces and which, by the chance structure of true noir cinema and by his own choice, damns him in the end. How ironic that, of the two, Ray chose to damn that character whose world was that "free" libertine Hollywood where Ray himself lived and worked, in the libertinism which Dostoevsky decisively rejected, rather than the world of ON DANGEROUS GROUND, that unnamed Stygian world which would seem, at first, to offer infinitely less choice, but which happens to provide the stark tableaux necessary for a definitive glimpse into one's own soul.
Lost in Space (1965)
An excellent example of a neglected genre, namely...
SPACE FANTASY... STAR TREK certainly utilized elements of whimsy but not to this degree ...I think especially of an example such as the space circus episode,or the wonderful episode in which Dr. Smith turns slowly into a stalk of celery (an acting tour de force, by the way...)...Stunning use of archetypes such as the innocent young lad, the brave companion and the cowardly uncle...many have complained of the cardboard quality of the so called "main characters" of this series, but what an interesting use of them. The so called adult "stars" being only paper backdrops, intentionally made so, so as to throw into relief the richness of these archetypes and the genuinely mythic adventures in which they find themselves.The "special guest star" status of Jonathan Harris is one of the great ironic tricks of network television. A very underrated series.