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Sorry I waited so long to see this
I have actively avoided watching this movie for decades because it was always described as a horrible flop and painful to watch. I knew that the ad campaign was "Gable's Back and Garson's Got Him," making me think this was some kind of screwball comedy, which seemed so inappropriate for Gable's first film after the war. At last, I've seen this movie, and I am stunned. It's a poetic, complex, dark drama always flirting with great tragedy. There's no way a 1945 audience would have been ready for these characters, this story or the dialogue, which is often presented more as verse than scripted lines. Watch Gable when he argues with Garson's character, almost to the point of physical blows - I've never seen him not be Clark Gable until this character, until that moment, and I cannot imagine we aren't seeing his grief at his loss of Carole Lombard and what he witnessed during World War II. It's overdue for this film to get the recognition it deserves. Joan Blondell and Thomas Mitchell are outstanding in their supporting characters. The biggest problem with this movie is its ridiculous title (the book on which it is based is called "The Annointed" - a much better title).
An earlier, more tender version of "Vicious"
I don't understand why the TV show "Vicious" has such a high rating here on IMDb, and rave reviews, while this movie is derided by so many and has such a low rating. That TV show and this movie are so similar in so many ways: a gay couple that has been together for many years, hurling witty insults at each other at every opportunity, so much that you wonder why they are together. Except that, unlike with "Vicious", I do see why these characters in "Staircase" are together. And unlike "Vicious," this movie has some lovely tender moments and much left unsaid. If you have ever been a caregiver for a loved one who is invalid or requires very intimate care, some scenes will strike right at home. Most viewers know won't know homosexuality was a crime in England, and Charles Dyer's fears of being imprisoned are real. In the holiday scenes, be sure to note all the trash all over the parks and beaches - just like the USA in the 60s and 70s, Europe wasn't so environmentally conscious once upon a time.
General Spanky (1936)
Uncomfortable at times, painful at others, but a must-see
The Our Gang series of shorts took place in more urban settings, and there were few overtly racist moments in those shorts - all the kids were playing together, in the same spaces, going in and out of the same doors, in and out of each other's homes, and no reference made to segregation or Jim Crow, etc. There was stereotyping, for sure - the black American kids, the Italian kids, the Asian kids, the fat kids, etc. But the lack of those overt racist moments is probably why these shorts have translated well enough for modern viewing.
But this full-length feature throws all that out the window: here is a story set in the South and presenting enslaved black Americans as happy, sweet simpletons, treated wonderfully by their owners. It's not "Birth of a Nation" bad - more "Song of the South" bad. There's even a conversation 10 minutes into the movie between two slave owners, bragging at how well fed and cared for their slaves are. Buckwheat, here an enslaved child, overhears the violence these owners say they would do on a re-captured runaway slave, and as he is run-away, he is terrified. It's supposed to be a funny moment - but to any halfway caring human being, knowing what really did happen to re-captured run- away slaves, the incredible violence and humiliation that was all too real, it's painful now to watch this scene, to watch this reality made light of. It would be like watching an old movie making fun of the Holocaust. Lots of other cringe-worthy moments as well, like Spanky proudly proving he's a "Southern Gentleman" to Alfalfa by showing off "his" slave, smiling happy Buckwheat.
So, why did I give it a 7? Because it is a PERFECT example of how, 70 years after the Civil War - and beyond - the myths of the happy slave, the genteel white slave owner, the "noble" and brave fighters for the Southern "cause" and the boorish, cowardly Northerners was/is perpetuated in the USA, this time with the overwhelming cuteness and charm of Spanky and Buckwheat, probably the two most popular members of the Little Rascals (they were always my favorites).
What Tomorrow Brings (2015)
I worked in Afghanistan for just six months in 2007, and I've watched so many documentaries and films, and read so many books, about the country and the situation there, and most fall short in showing how complex it is, especially for women and girls - at least in my opinion. This documentary nails it - it presents the people and their thoughts, without comment from the filmmakers. It's a mix of heartlessness and hope - which is exactly what living in Afghanistan is like. You can ask "why" all you want - but you need to know that is how it is, for whatever reason, and see for yourself have brave Afghan women circumvent the culture to help the women of their country.
Oregon Field Guide (1988)
Made me fall in love with Oregon
There are local TV stations and PBS affiliates that produce weekly shows profiling their state, but so many feel like mere advertisements for some hotel or recreation area that paid money for coverage, or feel amateurish in how they are filmed, set to music, etc. Not Oregon Field Guide, which presents not only shows that make you want to travel to an area in Oregon, but also presents thought-provoking topics for debate. Like in 2009, when the program followed 12 middle school students from Sunnyside Environmental School in Portland who, after writing a poem about protecting wolves, which most Oregon ranchers despise, traveled 300 miles from their urban homes to live on ranches across rural Grant County and get to know ranching families up close. Or why meadows are disappearing across Oregon. Or how the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spends its money on the fish and the game animals that make the agency money from licenses and tags, and neglects hundreds of other sensitive species. A show that bridges the urban and rural divide of Oregon.
In the spirit of the original show
About a month after reviewing many of the original Star Trek shows from the 1960s, seeing many for the first time in more than 20 years, I watched this episode for only the second time ever - the first time since it was shown originally. I cannot understand all the hatred for this episode by other reviewers here on IMDb: it's as preachy and unrealistic as those original Star Trek episodes, and like the original, presents a social issue we are actually dealing with right now in a barely-veiled way. The episode is obviously talking about homosexuality rather than an androgynous and asexual race, and now, almost 15 years after it premiered, it's just as powerful to see Soren using so many of the same arguments that people have had to use for same-sex relationships and marriage equality.
Another reviewer said that he doesn't understand why it's a bad thing that Soren is "reprogrammed", because at the end, she is glad she's been "cured." Ridiculous! Go watch the Twilight Zone episode "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" - she's also really happy at the end after she's been "reprogrammed." Do you think that's also a happy ending?!
This episode is rarely shown anymore, and I have wondered why. Perhaps because of fear that some people will misinterpret as an attack on people who are transgendered or asexual? I'd like to give people more credit than that - surely we can appreciate this pioneering episode for its original intentions in the time it was made.
Ever Since Eve (1937)
nice little surprise of a movie
What a gem of a movie! Sure, some of the circumstances are preposterous, even for 1937, but the pace is fast, the characters are fun and the building tension as the main character tries to juggle being both Marge Winton and "Sadie Day" is as much fun as the climax of "Mrs. Doubtfire" in the restaurant when Robin Williams just continually change between characters. I'm stunned this has never been remade (or perhaps it has?).
Marion Davies is a delight, every bit as fun as Carole Lombard. I've never seen her in a movie, and always heard she was a mediocre actress. But she's actually quite good, perfect for this role.
On the one hand, this is an incredibly dated movie. On the other hand - is it? Sexual harassment is certainly still a problem in the workplace, though how a woman looks is no protection against it or invitation for it, as this movie implies. But the scene where Marion Davies, in frumpy disguise, isn't helped as she enters a hotel and doesn't get a very nice reception from the front desk clerk, but beautiful "Sadie Day" gets helped and warmly welcomed - has anything really changed from then until now?
It was also startling, and refreshing, to see black British actor Frederick Clarke as the urbane butler, though I held my breath when a character was furious with him started to insult him with a word that started with "n" - and sighed with relief that the word turned out to be "nincompoop."
The Sins of Rachel Cade (1961)
painful stereotypes, preposterous story lines, still worth watching
Painfully dated, unrealistic story of a nun/nurse, Rachel Cade, who goes to the Belgian Congo to bring health care and Christian salvation to an African village. The African representations are stereotypical and, at times, painful, especially if you have ever been to sub-Sahara Africa. A preachy film with sexualized, seducing, tribal Africans and a righteous and sexually conflicted white savior nurse trying to bring the "true" religion to the primitives. The script is laughable at times, especially the assertions of how superior Christianity - specifically, Catholicism - is to the local beliefs. And the music is, at times, laugh out loud funny, unintentionally - like when Paul Wilton (Roger Moore) says, "I'm a doctor."
Other reviewers have called the character of Rachel Cade "frigid." That word actually doesn't fit at all. Poor Angie looks absolutely lovely on the camera as she sweats and even writhes at one point over the sexual desires her character is supposedly experiencing - but the preposterous situation make you want to laugh rather than feel sympathy.
Altogether, it actually makes the film worth watching, to see just how distorted Europeans (and USA movie audiences) have seen Africans. Another thing that makes the film worthwhile to watch is a young Scatman Crothers, and it's always great to see Woody Strode on the screen, even in a substandard film. And Roger Moore pulls off the American accent, through a less nasally voice would have been nice.
The movie is produced by Henry Blanke, also responsible for the far less offensive, less preachy, much more nuanced and realistic film, THE NUN'S STORY. Unlike that film, this seems mostly filmed on a soundstage.
Cheesy, charming, challenging
I love propaganda films. I don't care how dated and cheesy they can be. I'm fascinated by how they try to do whatever it is they are trying to do, even when I don't at all agree with their communication goals. If you watch this movie purely as an example of propaganda, and are aware of what was going on in the USA when the film was released (1951), you will enjoy it, even as cheesy as it can be. What I love about this film in particular is that it's not just a rah-rah-USA-we're-fabulous film, but it's a challenge to viewers as well, asking the people of the USA a number of things, including if they understand that it's the racial and ethnic diversity of this country that makes the USA so special, if they will fear change or embrace it, and if they can let go of long-held prejudices. If you aren't fascinated by propaganda, then you will enjoy the film at the very least if you are a movie buff: so many, many big names! My favorite: Fredric March, who is absolutely aDORKable. What I wondered after watching it: could a similar film be made now? And what would it look like?
The Mark (1961)
outdated ideas make this film hard to watch; Whitman is amazing
An extremely difficult film to watch, knowing what we know now that the makers of this film did not know then, so many decades ago, about pedophiles / child predators and (if any) treatment. The film's heart is in the right place - it comes from a place of faith that any mental disease is curable, that every person can be restored to a normal life around vulnerable people with proper treatment, etc. - ideas that we know now, very clearly, aren't true for child predators, but you have to admire how much the film-makers support mental health services and therapy. But the film's incredibly outdated ideas and characters committing dangerous actions can make you oh so uncomfortable - like a psychiatrist talking about the seductiveness of prepubescent girls, same psychiatrist condoning his pedophile patient being around a young girl and even giving his patient alcohol, his patient not telling the woman he's dating, a mother of a young girl, why he was in prison, etc. None of those activities would be tolerable or condoned now - in fact, some would be criminal. On the other hand, the movie remains valid in its accurate portrayal of some pedophiles that know realization of their propensities would incredibly harmful and who are tortured by those inclinations and a lack of cure: Stuart Whitman is remarkable, truly, in the lead role, giving a powerful but, at times, very subtle performance, and is absolutely worthy of his Oscar nomination.