The Cobalt Club Annex
Would you like to react to this message? Create an account in a few clicks or log in to continue.

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Page 13 of 28 Previous  1 ... 8 ... 12, 13, 14 ... 20 ... 28  Next

Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Space Cadet on 12/31/2019, 7:52 pm

Three points I'd like to offer on this putrified heap of limburger.

1. This movie made Ed Wood look like a genius.
2. The reason Santa was giggly and half the cast was green, was because that was Frank Zappa (retconned) and the whole cast and crew was stoned. [Ref. Reefer Madness]
3. If you thought Pia Zadora's acting was bad, you've obviously never heard her singing.
Space Cadet
Space Cadet
Admin

Posts : 710
Join date : 2013-04-06
Location : Central Florida

https://cobaltclubannex.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 12/31/2019, 9:31 pm

Holy $#!%, Space. You just made me want to rinse out my eyes with Round-Up spray and wash! Was she having some form of weird seizure? Brrrrrrrr. affraid
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Space Cadet on 12/31/2019, 11:35 pm

It got a lot weirder than that. She actually got a Grammy nomination for that song. Of course it took a lot of hefty cash donations by her hyper wealthy husband at the time, to get that nomination.
Space Cadet
Space Cadet
Admin

Posts : 710
Join date : 2013-04-06
Location : Central Florida

https://cobaltclubannex.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/1/2020, 5:42 pm

Post #248: Let me be the first to wish you a Happy and Prosperous Ditch Your Resolution Day, officially January 17, but I like to get a jump on things. So I've already broken all my resolutions for 2020, figuring I'll be more proactive than I've been in the past. I've also pledged not to use words like "proactive" since it sounds like a pimple creme. Further, I will not pound away at Hallmark movies anymore (well, at least any less), I will not scream "You LIE!" at the television when Steve Harvey tells me I can win $5,000 a week from Publishers Clearinghouse, I will seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly go where no man has gone before in my film commentaries, and I will diminish the number of terribly obtuse references to popular media outlets in those comments even though I'm livin' in a powderkeg and givin' off sparks. Above all, I will ferret out films that challenge, provoke, edify and engage the human spirit, offering hope, sustenance, and a deeper understanding of our essentially good nature, films like *The Leech Woman* (1960).

So in that pledge of continuous Quality renovation, I'm not going to comment on the film I watched last night but downshift this commentary into happiness-making. Last night I watched a gritty comedy-drama of existential longing to connect, to validate one's reason for living and challenge fate, in the final scenes offering questions of redemption and self-respect. Nope. Not gonna do it. . . nah gah dah. I'll save it for a day or two down the road, when we're not so filled with joyous reconstruction for a New Year and may be less bothered by the film's decimating use of the F-bomb (It's even used in the title of the film, though asterisks shield us from reading the word and being aware of its usage).

No, today we're offering a feature of unbridled optimism highlighting the soft side of Clint Eastwood in his seventh directorial venture and his own personal favorite film from his own canon. Yes, we're talking *Bronco Billy* (1980), a film that paid back five times its production budget in the box office. Eastwood himself told a French interviewer, "It was an old-fashioned theme, probably too old fashioned since the film didn't do as well as we hoped. But if, as a film director, I ever wanted to say something, you'll find it in *Bronco Billy*." And it's one of our family's favorite films that we've returned to again and again.

It's a film with a modest budget, shot in six weeks on location in Idaho, Oregon and New York, a marvel of cinematic efficiency as it came in two to four weeks ahead of schedule in what Eastwood said was "one of the most affable shoots" he'd ever experienced. That kind grace is obvious in the temperament and treatment of the stars--Sondra Locke (with whom Eastwood shared an off-screen romance at the time), Geoffrey Lewis, Scatman Crothers and Sam Bottoms with a cameo by Merle Haggard with whom Eastwood sings "Barroom Buddies." In many ways *Bronco Billy* harkens back to a simpler time when heroes were actually modest, well meaning people and life could be lived in measured moments of quiet joy.

Bronco Billy's Wild West Show offers a traveling troupe of performers whose days have been relegated to the past; consequently, none of the participants has been paid in six months, the crowds are thinning more and more with each tour, and morale is starting to ride off into the sunset. But Bronco Billy McCoy (Clint) is a dreamer, one of those rare people who still believe that honor and virtue follow one another in more places than in the dictionary. One night during his blindfolded finale involving knife throwing at a woman mounted on a wheel, Billy accidentally nicks the model's leg, forcing her to quit in fear, and the Show leaves town penniless. Seeking a permit to put on the show, Billy thwarts a bank robbery, becomes a local hero and promotes his Show when interviewed by reporters.

Across the motel where the crew reside, Antoinette Lily (Sondra Locke), a spoiled, opportunistic debutante approaching thirty, prepares to marry John Arlington (Geoffrey Lewis), whom she does not love but tolerates in order to access her inheritance, which stipulated marriage before her thirtieth birthday. When Arlington steals away with Antoinette's fortune and her car, she begrudgingly seek solace with Billy's group. In that good old-fashioned screwball comedy tradition, all manner of trouble dogs the Show as soon as she joins, leading everyone to believe she's bad luck. Meanwhile, Arlington is bulldozed into a trumped up murder charge by Antoinette's stepmother and crooked lawyer who stand to inherit the debutante's inheritance.

As the members of the Show face a series of failed schemes and run-ins with the law, Antoinette discovers these performers are little more than ex-convicts, army deserters, alcoholics, and Billy himself was just a former New Jersey shoe salesman who shot his wife for sleeping with his best friend. So they are all on the road to redemption, performing for their own special form of atonement. The action is light and wispy, the tone is empathetic and hopeful, and the person Billy has become is almost Zen-like in his slow and easy take-it-as-it-comes attitude.

The film is so airy you might find it surprising to see Clint Eastwood playing a vulnerable venerable hero; no one is damaged in the filming of this movie--even the bank robber, who draws Billy's wrath at the man's mistreatment of a young investor with a piggy bank (one of the absolute highlights of the film as Clint employs the Dirty harry Squint for comic effect), comes away with a negligible scratch wound. *Bronco Billy* is a paean to the Lone Ranger's code of ethics, penned by creator Fran Striker:

I believe…
…that to have a friend, a man must be one.
…that all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to help make this a better world.
…that God put the firewood there, but every man must gather and light it for himself.
…in being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary, for that which is right.
…that a man should make the most of what he has.
…that “this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people,” shall live always.
…that man should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
…that sooner or later, somewhere, somehow, we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
…that all things change but truth and that truth alone lives on forever.
…in my creator, my country, and my fellow man.

As we're entering a new decade, it seems prudent to me that we revisit these tenets and actively strive to be inspired by them. When I was a kid watching heroes like The Lone Ranger (and later *Bronco Billy* as a quasi-pseudo-faux adult), I believed in those moral compasses and I continue to be guided by them. So even though ethics today has become more a buzz word to be hoisted out when moral indignation is required in order to look like an electable candidate in the pursuit of mindless self-interest, I remain one of those cockeyed optimists or naive Pollyandys who believe right values create right thoughts which create right actions which may be seen as material reflections of the peace that underlies it all. (Robert Pirsig is permanently implanted in my mind.)

And films like *Bronco Billy* bolster that set of rubrics for right. Not to mention how darned entertaining such a lesson can be when it's subtle, sweet and romantic in more ways than one. It's rather sad to realize that of all the actors in this film only Clint Eastwood and Sierra Pechur (Lorraine Running Water) are still around to hold onto the hope of Clint's message, but you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. . . and if you're up to a family feature, maybe you can join us and do your part to help the world live as one, because you'll surely get more out of this movie than you will from Hallmark. (Dang! Another resolution gone. . .)
Enjoy.
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/2/2020, 6:47 pm

Post #249: It's a neighborly day in this beautywood, A neighborly day for a beauty, Would you be mine? Could you be mine?  Hi, Neighbor.  I'd like to share with you some advice today:  If you're out on the town one night after your wife Mae (Carole Landis) has left for her sister's, and you happen to meet a lovely stranger, Olive Jensen (Ann Dvorak) in a restaurant advertising Air Conditioned Steaks, I think it would be a good idea to run--don't walk--back to your spacious Greenwich Village ten-floor apartment, lock the door and hide under the bed.  Why? Well, because if you're Arthur Earthleigh, a browbeaten milquetoast of a man (George Brent) with a spine of Silly Putty, you shouldn't sing "Would you be mine, could you be mine" to a clingy dipsomaniac in a moment of lapsed reason.  Can you say dipsomaniac? It's a big word, isn't it?  In today's feature *Out Of The Blue* (1947) it also means floozy with a bad heart, or so she says.  Floozy--that's a funny word, isn't it?  Well, so is *Out of the Blue*.

Even though we're dealing with the high society comprised of people who have bottles of brandy lying about like survivalists' bottled water stockpiled in a bunker, this nutball (not just screwball, but insane, hopped-up zaniness-on-speed) comedy came from Poverty Row.  "Poverty Row" is the slangy slogan for Hollywood B-film studios of the '20s through the '50s on the lower tier of production; they were usually short-lived but prodigiously cranked out films like *The Bowery Boys*, gangster flix and westerns.  On occasion such companies, like today's Eagle Lion Productions who released *Repeat Performance* (1947) commented on earlier here, developed some surprising successes, snagging a stray Academy Award nomination, but most of their films are modest and largely forgettable fodder for TV's Late Late Early Early Shows.

Certainly *Out Of The Blue* boasts some top talent--in addition to those mentioned, it offers Virginia Mayo, Turhan Bey, with Elizabeth Patterson and Julia Dean in lovable old maid roles standing in like female counterparts of the balcony kibbitzers from *The Muppet Show*, Statler and Waldorf.  Don't let the Poverty Row credentials delude you into thinking this is a cheap-jack production--no, it's pretty lush with a lot of diaphanous curtains and gown, shining chromium, Art Deco furniture, fashionable designers' wear, and plenty of light.  It is also funnier than a bag of ornate crystal doorknobs if you don't mind the actors broadly overplaying their parts for comic effect like a Heckle and Jeckyl cartoon.

That comparison to magpies is not accidental, by the way.  For the women in this film, as attractive and interesting as they are, tend toward rapid-fire extremes--Carole Landis in her last Hollywood role tends to natter incessantly, beating husband bespectacled George Brent into stuttering submission; Ann Dvorak as the designer Olive is a brandy depository whose speech patterns soar and dip and strafe like a cashmere gatling gun; and Virginia Mayo's Deborah Tyler retains a quiet panic since she represents a moderately cool voice of reason amid the madness.  As an extra bonus, the two old maids, Miss Spring and Miss Ritchie, add to the confusion and calamity from their perch on the floor overlooking the principals' terraces.

It's a mixing bowl of madness from the get-go, as you can see from the opening posted here. [I searched the nether regions of the Internet to find a trailer and still came up empty handed.]  Bohemian bachelor artist David Gelleo (Turhan Bey) entertains an endless parade of beautiful young women ("models" he calls them) in his posh studio apartment, only his dog Rabelais (rather well named considering his ribald doggish owner) sharing permanent space with him.  Next door, sharing a lengthy but fenced terrace, Arthur Earthleigh and his wife Mae bicker over Rabelais' habit of burying his bones in their flower beds.

After a tense encounter, the Earthleighs initiate eviction complaints against Gelleo, David meets and courts Deborah who wishes to mate her dog with Rabelais, Mae leaves for a weekend, and Arthur throws all caution to the wind and with his two-dollar allowance goes out for a ginger ale and a meal.  Tipsy interior decorator Olive insinuates herself (*pours herself* would be a better description) into Arthur's evening, and the timid househusband ends up with Olive in his apartment.  Somewhere along the way Arthur decides he's not ready for this whirlwind who is socking away all his brandy under the guise that it helps her heart condition, and orders her away--she ends up in the guest bedroom, curled into a ball until morning.  

When Arthur discovers her the next morning, she has redecorated the entire guest room, to Arthur's horror over his wife's exacting standards being violated.  Imploring Olive to go home before his wife returns, he accidentally knocks her to the floor where she lies unconscious.  Naturally, as any of us would, Arthur believes he's killed her and so deposits her body on the terrace, in full view of the Greek Chorus of Misses Spring and Ritchie.  And we're off to the races as the film becomes a Body Body Who's Got The Body?

This is all orchestrated by a non-stop score of wacky WAH-WAH musical accompaniment.  Had the music been darker or more suspenseful *Out Of The Blue* might have been a black comedy, but Carmen Dragon's bouncy themes make it abundantly clear that this is not to be anything but a goofy romp that clips along for 84 minutes and signals a happy ending in the first three minutes.

Much has been made of the actors' playing against type in *Out Of The Blue*. Distinguished leading man George Brent is curious in his 7-Up bottle-bottom glasses, Carole Landis forsakes her glamorous dramatic presence for Mae's velvet steamroller shrew, Ann Dvorak is by turns annoying as a bottle of bees and endearing as a damaged dame, Turhan Bey has fun as a rather shrewd and scheming sketchy artist, and Virginia Mayo is largely beautiful scenery without a whole lot to do.  But when you're in the mood for a completely mindless exercise in energetic nuttiness, this brandy's for you.  

My central peeve with the distribution of the film is its promotional posters, which oddly, inexplicably show Virginia Mayo seeming to coast toward us in some sort of trapeze or swan dive pose, promising us "the best time of your life."  Never in the film is she near a  high wire or pool, though she's listed second in the credits, her role is subservient to just about everyone else in the film, and the poster in no way, shape or form indicates what you're in for.  I'm not even sure why *Out Of The Blue* was the final title?  But who am I to kvetch?

I swore I would never use a certain word in my commentaries because it's so weak and ineffectual.  But here's another resolution blown to smithereens--*Out Of The Blue* is cute. Silly but cute.  And if you're in a dark mood, it may in fact leave you with a good feeling.  So, as I take off my tennis shoes, put my sweater in the closet and move toward the door for today, let me leave you with a cute little sentiment, And when you wake up ready to say, "I think I'll make a snappy new day," It's such a good feeling, A very good feeling, The feeling you know that we're friends. Bye, Neighbor.  
Enjoy.
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Space Cadet on 1/2/2020, 8:06 pm

If I'm in a dark mood, I go for somethin' I know will brighten things up. Somethin'  like Secondhand Lions or somethin' starrin' Danny Kaye.
Space Cadet
Space Cadet
Admin

Posts : 710
Join date : 2013-04-06
Location : Central Florida

https://cobaltclubannex.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/3/2020, 6:05 pm

Post #250: After watching today's feature, *Silver Streak* (1976), Cary Grant met the film's star Gene Wilder and asked if the movie in any way had been inspired by Hitchcock's *North By Northwest* (1959), in which Grant starred. When Wilder confirmed Grant's suspicion, the suave star remarked, "I knew it! Have you noticed that each time you take ordinary people, say, like you and me, then take them in a situation way above their heads, it makes a great thriller?" So with that recommendation, who am I to disagree, especially since *NxNW* is one of my favorite films of all time?

*Silver Streak* is cut from a different bolt of cloth than Hitchcock's film, but since it was a movie my wife and I saw several times in the theater when we were a'courtin', I find it still holds some terrific strengths: It's a fun comedy showcasing the first of five partnerships with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, it co-stars Jill Clayburgh (whose hair and curve of the nose kept me enrapt in 1976), Patrick McGoohan (my hero in *The Prisoner*'s Number 6) is a marvelous villain, the soundtrack is by Henry Mancini, Arthur Hiller is the director, and it is supported by a great cast of character actors including Ned Beatty, Scatman Crothers, Richard Kiel ("Jaws" in two James Bond films), Fred Willard, Clifton James, Valerie Curtain and Ray Walston. So many familiar faces and a mystery thrown in for good measure.

Traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago, book editor George Caldwell (Gene Wilder) is en route to his sister's wedding when he meets Hilly Burns (Jill Clayburgh), assistant to a Renaissance historian on tour promoting his book on Rembrandt. During a romantic encounter in his stateroom with Hilly, George sees the author dead and dangling outside his window, though Hilly believes George is hallucinating from a drunken stupor. Investigating the next day, George confirms it was the historian he saw, becomes embroiled in the pursuit of missing Rembrandt letters and art forgery schemes, and gets thrown off the train by the murderers.

Now wanted for murder of an FBI agent he's confided in, the framed George escapes from a local sheriff and meets Grover T. Muldoon (Richard Pryor) handcuffed in the backseat of the patrol car George steals. Together they track the itinerary of the train, the Silver Streak, and hop the train in Kansas City after much confusion. The story clacks along the tracks as George and Grover settle in to solve the crime, save Hilly and confront the crooked art dealer Devereau (Patrick McGoohan) who wishes to destroy the Rembrandt letters which discredit him.

Richard Pryor was just hitting his stride in the movies at this time, and *Silver Streak* cemented his screen presence as a foil for Gene Wilder. On the first day on camera, Wilder recalled, "He said his first line, I said my first line and then this other line comes out of him... I had no idea where it came from, but I didn't question it, I just responded naturally – I didn't try to think of a clever line... I said what came naturally in the situation... then he went back to the script, then he came away, and everything we did together was like that." Though sometimes volatile due to his reckless drug regimen, Pryor held his balance during filming. Pryor's daughter Rain said in an interview, "I know that [Wilder] didn’t hang out with Dad a lot because they just didn’t — my dad was different. They were different in natures. Mr. Wilder was the older 'I'm here. I'm doing my work and we have a great chemistry. And then I'm going to go have my sober life.' He was a normal dude compared to my dad in that sense. . . [he] thought them together was amazing. He always said, 'That man's a genius, and he's a good man, that's for sure.' I always heard him say, 'He's a good man.'"

One scene that was improved from the original script, at Pryor's insistence, is now deemed a classic interaction. As Grover smuggles George onto the train while avoiding arrest, he smears George with shoe polish. The original intent was to cue a white commuter to enter the bathroom and not notice the difference between George and Grover, but Pryor refused, suggesting to director Arthur Hiller that a black man should enter and not be fooled at all. Hiller refused, Pryor walked off the set and would not return until the scene was shot as he saw it. Hiller relented, shot the scene, and it now appears as Pryor saw it in the finished cut. Even today with its PC tendencies seeing a caucasian man in blackface is disconcerting, but somehow Pryor makes it okay (he was one of the co-writers for *Blazing Saddles* 1974) after all.)

In an interview with Roger Ebert shortly after the film was released, Wilder said, "What happened was, I was reading about Buster Keaton. About how he did all his own stunts. Like the time he had to stand in exactly the right place for the two-ton building to fall on him and he was right where the window was. So then we were making 'Silver Streak' and there we were doing our own stunts."

Pryor added, "That was really him. That was really him hanging out and me hanging onto his belt. And that was really a train going 50 miles an hour. We rehearsed it at 10 [mph] and shot it at 50. I was in the doorway, hanging onto Gene's belt, while he's leaning out of the train trying to get the coupling unfastened, and I'm thinking, 'One slip of my foot and good-by, Gene.'"

"What gave me a lot of confidence," Wilder said, "was that Richie promised me that if I went, he went, too. If I fell off the train and was killed he would throw himself after me."

"Of course," said Pryor, "they had me wired to the train."

"Ha!" said Wilder. "Your foot slips and I fall to my death and your parting words are, 'Uh, sorry about the wires, man . . .'"

But it is the chemistry exhibited between the two that added fuel to their brief partnership. Six years later after the release of *Stir Crazy, Wilder admitted sadly, “Then we did `Stir Crazy’ and Richard was a bad boy. He would come to the set 15 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half late and it would bug all of us. I didn’t want to say anything because I wanted it to go on.” In that same year director John Landis (*Animal House* 1978, *The Blues Brothers* 1980) had a script written especially for Wilder and Pryor, but it was not to be as Pryor was freebasing cocaine, suffered horrendous burns when it blew up in his face and set his head afire. That film went to Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, a film called *Trading Places* which was the fourth highest earning film of the year and the second highest earning R-rated film of 1983, remaining in the top ten grossing films for 17 weeks.

*Silver Streak* went on to gross $51,079,064, roughly ten times its estimated cost, and garnered nominations for Best Sound (Academy Award), Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for Gene Wilder (Golden Globes), Best Supporting Actor for Richard Pryor (New York Film Critics Circle), and Best Comedy Written for the Screen (Writers Guild of America). It was also chosen for a Royal Film Performance in 1977 and ranked #95 in The American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Laughs ceremony.

It don't take money, don't take fame, don't need no credit card to ride this train, so hop aboard. It's solid mixture of Hitchcock homage (reminiscent of *NxNW*, *The Lady Vanishes* and *Shadow Of A Doubt*), gentle comedy, romance and adventure. Aside from a little smattering of rough language--standard usages for a 1976 PG-rated film, no florid F-bombs--it's a film fit for most of the family and a nice throwback to the seventies without looking terrifically dated. Warning, though--it does have "damn hippies," as Scatman Crothers demeans them, but you won't care because you're laughing when he says it.
Enjoy.
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Space Cadet on 1/3/2020, 6:12 pm

Ya got me this time Jeff. I've gotta dig up a copy of this one for the weekend. It's been years since I last saw it.
Space Cadet
Space Cadet
Admin

Posts : 710
Join date : 2013-04-06
Location : Central Florida

https://cobaltclubannex.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Seamus on 1/3/2020, 7:29 pm

Second on that. Loved Silver Streak. Was a grand lark. I have fond memories of this movie. Like Space I will dig it out and see if it stacks up to memory.
Seamus
Seamus
Admin

Posts : 487
Join date : 2013-05-06
Location : Big Trouble in Little China

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/4/2020, 5:20 pm

Post #251: Hoya hoya! Sing along time: We'll be sailing along, on Turhan Bey. . . Yes, mateys, in answer to the thunderous nonexistent clamoring for more Turhan Bey films, you can now sign up for our Exclusive Movie Cruise disembarking from Turhan Bey, taking in the beautiful tropical sights of NoBikini Atoll, sailing through the turbulent churning of the Isle of Langerhans, while dining in luxury on our famous Honeymoon Salad Bar--lettuce alone with no dressing.  We've spared all manner of expense to offer you this cruise, awarding the first ten people who respond with a genuine faux TB Turban and Pencil Mustache Applicator ABSOLUTELY FREE, just pay additional charge.  But hurry, supplies are limited and slots are filling up fast (largely due to a hole in the bulkhead, but you can take advantage of a seat by the water).  

To further entice you, we offer today's feature *Footsteps In The Dark* (1941) also starring Errol Flynn as a dashing high society investments advisor who secretly writes "scandalous" detective novels drawing inspiration from the people surrounding him.  Also joining in the fun are Brenda Marshall as his trusting wife, Allen Jenkins as his trusty confidante, Alan Hale as a blustery police captain, Lee Patrick as burlesque dancer Blondie White, William Frawley as dim Detective "Hoppy" Hopkins, and Ralph Bellamy as a dentist. And of course our star Turhan Bey holds his own as Ahmed, servant to a jewel thief; though he's on screen considerably less than in *Out Of The Blue*, probably five minutes of combined screen time, he looks marvelous in his turban and sullen stare mode.

Originally conceived as a possible series bearing striking comparisons to *The Thin Man*, *Footsteps In The Dark* lacked the fizzy sizzle of the William Powell-Myrna Loy franchise, and so with a lukewarm reception fizzled plans for the sequel *Ghosts Don't Leave Footprints*.  That's not to say that this film is a major disappointment, for it offers a great supporting cast that serve the plot well, and Errol Flynn, having just completed seven pictures in a row for Warners, had lobbied hard for a change of pace, in this case a light-hearted comedy mystery.  Said co-star Ralph Bellamy, Flynn was "a darling. Couldn't or wouldn't take himself seriously. And he drank like there was no tomorrow. Had a bum ticker from the malaria he'd picked up in Australia. Also a spot of TB. Tried to enlist but flunked his medical, so he drank some more. Knew he wouldn't live into old age. He really had a ball in Footsteps in the Dark. He was so glad to be out of swashbucklers."

As Francis Monroe Warren II Flynn lives in luxury with his wife Rita and her mother, but holds a modest cottage on the side where he secrets himself between appointments in his elegant investment offices.  In this hideaway with his right-hand man Wilfred he dictates his lurid novels under the pseudonym F.X. Pettijohn, his true identity known only to Wilfred and Inspector Mason (Alan Hale Sr., a Flynn regular and father to The Skipper on *Gilligan's Island*).  One day at the office a potential client desperate for legitimacy, Leopold Fissue (Noel Madison), approaches Warren with a demand that he handle Fissue's investments and transfer a fortune in uncut diamonds into cash.  Warren reluctantly agrees to meet Fissue that evening at the shady character's mansion, but is kept waiting as Fissue has not yet docked his yacht from an afternoon's frolic. (This is where Turhan Bey comes in as Fissue's manservant.)

If you can connect dots 1, 2 and 3, you can easily see the picture forming--Fissue wakes up dead on the yacht, Warren investigates out of his heightened sense of drama, a burlesque girl (Lee Patrick, in a weirdly cast role if you remember her only from the old Leo G. Carroll *Topper* TV show as Topper's stiff, vapid wife Henrietta) looms as a suspect, and Warren clashes with Inspector Mason and his bumbling detective Hoppy (William Frawley, aka Fred Mertz or Bub on *My Three Sons*) in a basically harmless skip through the graveyard.

At various times the film was slated to star Claude Reins, Joan Blondell, Edward G. Robinson, and Olivia deHavilland, and honestly it's a challenge to imagine the film with those male leads.  Flynn's unrequited love for Olivia deHavilland directed his attempts to get her to co-star with him, but Brenda Marshall won out.  This is one of the few rare instances when Flynn got to exercise his comedic muscles, and his overall lightness shows he's really enjoying himself as he's burst from the confines of restrictive doublets and swords.  His confidence is breezy, his face animated in its mugging, and his adoption of a Texas accent is broad comedy to be sure. (In a nutty scene as he's wining the burlesque dancer, he drawls, "Gee Blondie, words come out of you just as beautiful as oil comes out of a derrick!") So perhaps the absurdity of the plot just didn't sit well with the stereotyped pigeon hole in which 1941 audiences liked to see Flynn placed.

Bette Davis, who starred with Flynn in two films, said he was. . . "The most beautiful person we've ever had on the screen...He openly said he knew nothing about acting, and I admired his honesty because he was absolutely right." Years later in the screening of one of their movies, Davis leaned over to a friend and in shock remarked,  “Damn it! The man could act!” Even though many believed Flynn was not a great actor, in 1940 he was still the fourteenth most popular actor in the US and seventh in the UK.

A prankster on the soundstage, Flynn had notable run-ins with his director Michael Curtiz (*The Adventures of Robin Hood* 1938) several times.  During the filming of *Robin Hood* Curtiz directed the guards be removed from the actors' swords during a dueling sequence, evidently without telling Flynn.  When he discovered this, Flynn confronted his co-star who confirmed the action, saying Curtiz thought it would be "more exciting" with bare blades. Flynn stormed across the set, grabbed Curtiz by the throat and hissed, "Is this exciting enough?" And later discovering Curtiz had used trip wires on horses to elevate the charge sequences in *Charge Of The Light Brigade* (1936), tripping 125 horses and killing 25 of them in the process, Flynn physically assaulted the director, an action that led to animal protection laws being strengthened.

Though Flynn and Brenda Marshall co-starred more memorably the year before in *The Sea Hawk* (1940), it is fun to see them working together in a non-period piece.  Personally I wish more had been done with the homelife/secret life dichotomy as some serious sparks could fly between them, hinted at in the concluding shot of the film.  Marshall has a terrific talent to investigate, and her character shows intimations feisty enough to really make the story come alive through its convolutions and absurdities, but here she's little more than a supporting role.  *Filmink* magazine argued Flynn was "not entirely comfortable as a comic actor but it’s a very endearing performance, and he has that charisma and charm to compensate for his lack of technique. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t do its star justice."  Double that for Marshall.

In many ways *Footsteps In The Dark* is standard Warner Bros. fare, though its stars and supporting cast elevate it to something more than an SOP mystery B picture.  It's a nice diversion and offers some nice, smooth chuckles along the way, but the plot holes are large enough to swallow Turhan Bey's Exclusive Movie Cruise.  It's a nice ride, but as you disembark back on dry land and eager friends ask how you enjoyed the trip, your response might be little more than "Fine.  It was nice. And the turban was fashionable."
Enjoy.
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/5/2020, 5:48 pm

Post #252: [Speaking in a whisper, sotto voce] The password is "Rebuncular." [Allen Ludden]: Okay, Hugh Marlowe, you have the clue. Do you want to pass or play? [Marlowe}: I'll play. (Pause) "Flower." [Contestant]: Oh, uhm, "Pillsbury"? *Beep* [Ludden]: No, you might want to read that again, Hugh. Over to you, Nancy Gates. [Nancy Gates]: Oooh. "Pricey." (Indicating a lengthy beard) [Other Contestant]: (Flummoxed) "Collectible"? *Beep* [Ludden]: No, it's not collectible, but it could be. Over to Hugh. [Marlowe]: "Uncle." [Contestant]: "Relative"? [Ludden]: No, Hugh, you might want to reread the clue, Nancy. [Gates, nodding, smiling]: "Ceramics." [Other Contestant]: "Rebuncular!" *Ding Ding Ding!* [Ludden]: Yes, "Rebuncular"--a ceramic rock formation sold at auction by artist Ken Price, who of course was known for his long flowing beard. Hugh, I think you misread the clue, first as "Ranunculus," which of course is a cool season flower, and then as "Avuncular" which refers to one's uncle.  It's all right. A common mistake, but Shawn Smith, you got it with partner Nancy Gates so now you can go to the Speed Round. . . .

In my mind Hugh Marlowe always struck me as a little obtuse in the many movies in which he starred; perpetually staring into blank spaces with blank faces as if he was just recovering from retrograde amnesia and was just now realizing he had dialogue to deliver to the woman hanging on his prompt, growing increasingly distressed because she knew HER lines and was waiting to speak them. And so it is with today's feature, *World Without End* (1955) a goofy little sci-fi entry into the Hugh Marlowe Hesitant Expectancy School of Drama. (This has been borne out by writer/director Edward Bernds, who has stated Marlowe was lazy and often unprepared during the filming; he also took half the salary of the other actors.)

On the whole, *World Without End* is quite lavish in its production, filmed in Cinemascope, a sharp looking film that actually offers some capable acting, other than Marlowe: Nelson Leigh is pitch perfect as Dr. Eldon Galbraithe, self-proclaimed leader of a Mars expedition along with Rod Taylor (complete with his native Australian accent) as bare-chested radioman Herbert Ellis, Marlowe as scientist John Borden, and Christopher Dark as engineer Henry Jaffe, a family man who misses his wife and kids.  Returning from their first reconnaissance mission orbiting Mars, they are plunged into a hokey smoke of a time warp--it reminded me of Buzz Corey's Terra IV, or the Ralston Rocket, from *Space Patrol* bouncing over a lit match.

They land in a snow capped landscape, amazingly with the same atmosphere as Earth, which in typical 1950s naivete they discover by poking their heads out of the space ship and sniffing the air without fear of imploding.  Soon they are put upon by comically hairy troglodytes with patchy carpet remnants covering stretches of their arms as they attack our crew in search of a fresh supply of Gillette blades.  These one-eyed (one horned flying purple people eaters) "mutates" as they are labeled sport one eye, a fact that aids Borden in hand-to-hand combat as Galbraithe yells, "Stay on his blind side."  Hey! That's not very politically correct, Dr. So they are visually challenged, and challenging--they're still our descendants, even though they have de-evolved in the etiquette department. Are we not men? We are Devo.  At least we can marvel at the beautiful ranunculus blooming in clusters in the dust.

Be sure to check out the giant spiders made from menacing foam rubber, which the director used again in *Queen of Outer Space* (1958) and *Valley of the Dragons* (1961).  They are as frightening as bathmats with red delicious apples sewed on for eyes, and they "leap" [read: are pushed off ceramic rock formations, rebuncular in their appearance though hardly the stuff of Christie's Auction House] atop our heroes who writhe and scream presumably because of the way they smell rather than their fierceness.  And how stupid are these American Mind Trusts that upon seeing a gigantic web, they thrust their arms into it and then wonder why they become entangled, ensnared and incapable of any but the most panicked movement like those idiots on commercials at 2:00 AM who cannot extricate themselves from cellophane wrap on a roll (How often has this happened to you?).

As I said, its sheen is wonderful, so clearly some money went into this film, but between the lapses of logic, the hinky smattering of special effects and mega-gorgonzola fight sequences *World Without End* is a real mixed bag.  When our crew are escorted into the underground paradise of gleaming steel and art deco by the peaceful hole-dwellers and their hydroponic food synthesizers, the film steps up to the plate.  Yes, even though these high-technocrats live in complete harmony wearing silk floor-length capes and glittering shower caps, they are diminished physically, a race dying out due to a general apathy toward competition and weirdly sex.  The women, conversely, are walking hormones in skimpy outfits who coo and salivate over the musculature of Rod Taylor's Herb.  Led by Timmek (Everett Glass), the president of the ruling council, the undergrounders have eschewed any form of violence, with the exception of Mories (Booth Colman), a hostile member of the council who hasn't been eating his Maypo and grows restless when Timmek's daughter Garnet (Nancy Gates) starts making moves on John Borden.  He gets to grouse a lot and say things like, "Our women seem to have lagged behind in their evolution into reasonable creatures. They actually admire these reckless and brutal men."  He spends much of his time lurking in the shadows, knocking people in the head and eating worms in his backyard.

Galbraithe continues to be the soul of calm reason, asking, "In our travels we have seen nothing but desolation; where are the cities, the roads, the bridges, the great works of man? What happened to them?"  And Timmek in his sagely overview responds, "Armageddon. The slaughter of humanity. An atomic war no one wanted, but which no one had the wisdom to avoid."  Surprisingly these rare moments of drama actually work as commentaries on the Cold War and the arms race, echoing some of the prevailing fears of the age. Interestingly, Nelson Leigh's quiet reserve, his approachable gravitas and voice of authority are grounded in a history of powerful performances, including a recurring role as Pastor Martin in the Christian anthology program, *This Is The Life* and his award winning portrayal as Jesus and His disciples in such programs as *The Living Bible* and *Acts of the Apostles* series.   In 1953 he won the "Christian Oscar" from the National Evangelistic Film Foundation for his work in two series.  He also gained renown for playing priests and villains in *Perry Mason*, *The FBI*, *Bonanza* and *The Lone Ranger*.

The producers of *World Without End* were sued by the H.G. Wells estate for plagiarism, since the story revolved around time travel and the race of savages in the upper world.  Those were the only similarities with the novel, but the managers of the estate relented four years later when Rod Taylor also starred in George Pal's *The Time Machine* which was directly based on Wells' novel.  That treatment is certainly more popular, an "A" picture, while *World Without End* languishes in B-picture status, though at the time it given a much stronger budget through Allied Artists than most B-films, breaking the standard 60-70-minute mark with another full reel, clocking in at 80 minutes.

The final countdown battle with the upsiders, led by Deena (Lisa Montell), one of the original surface dwellers rescued from a tedious life of nuclear radiation and myopia, is corny and pure cheese as our intrepid band cobble together a bazooka that makes lightning and fire to rain down on the hapless hairballs.  But the denouement breaks the tradition of typical sci-fi pictures as our crew resign themselves to creating new life and new civilizations on their beloved Earth in 2508, building McDonald's and Taco Bells in the closing moments. (Sorry, no big spoiler here--it's a foregone conclusion halfway through the film that they're going to stay.)

I'm not altogether certain how its title illuminates the plot or the resolution, except perhaps people have decided to continue prospering by creating a hair salon Curl Up And Dye with the prospect of franchising out in the desolate reaches of the Mutates in pure free enterprise perpetuation.  Maybe we're supposed to see the primitives as reflective of the doxology "as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be," but I think that's a bit of a stretch on the film makers' part--the world is pretty pretty pretty far away from paradise, and Galbraithe's pronouncement that they will "repopulate the Earth" sounds more like *Dr. Strangelove*'s solution to nuclear annihilation than a hard reading of the Bible.

But then again, let's consider the source: Alberto Vargas, founder of *Playboy's famous monthly pictorial "Vargas Girls," was responsible for the set sketches and some of the film's design (see Deena and Elaine (Shawn Smith) and Garnet's outfits, for instance).  And consider that our crew are perhaps the only manly men who can help with that tiring re-population task since the council is filled with wizened old guys with negative forty-two testosterone fuel levels, and you get the idea this is a teen fanboy's dream movie more than an ecumenical treatise.

Anyway, *World Without End* is okay for what it sets out to accomplish.  It will never wash away fond memories of *2001: A Space Odyssey* (1968) or *The Last Starfighter* (1984) or even *Tom Corbett, Space Cadet*, but if you ask Hugh Marlowe, he'd probably suggest it was more fun than trying to get someone to guess "Incubus" on *Password* with a clue like "Easy Bake Oven."
Enjoy.
Jeff


Last edited by ghemrats on 1/6/2020, 6:18 pm; edited 1 time in total

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/6/2020, 5:33 pm

Post #253:  [Whispering, sotto voce] The Password is "Lumbrical." [Allen Ludden]: The studio and home audiences have the word, how about you, Kieron Moore. Do you want to play or pass? [Moore]: I'll play. (Looking at contestant earnestly) "Metacarpophalangeal." [Contestant]: "Interossei"? *Beep* [Ludden}: No, it goes over to you, Lois Maxwell. [Maxwell]: "Flex." [Other contestant]: "Lubricity"? *Beep*[Ludden]: Ooh, it's a close one. Kieron? [Moore]: "Digitorummmmmmm. . ." [Other contestant]: "Lumbrical." Ding Ding Ding! [Ludden]: Yes, lubrical, small hand muscles unattached to the bones of the hand.  Excellent. We've got a real barn burner today in our special Salute to Britain Version of Password. . .

You may notice something fundamentally different about British science fiction films like today's feature, *Satellite In Space* (1956) when compared to their American counterparts.  For one thing they seem so much more earnest and stoic, as if their brand of idiocy is far more refined than their non-mechantilist compatriots'.  Their scientists are so bloody serious, their insults more veiled; while Americans resort to yelling through corded necks and jutting jaws, English scientists resort to Noel Coward slyness, as in this brusque exchange:

Kim Hamilton (Lois Maxwell): Well, what if the STARDUST blows up, as she probably will?
Cmdr. Michael Haydon (Kieron Moore): Well, then we'll know... at least the designers will know... that the fuel or the design wasn't perfect.
Kim Hamilton: Some people find it impossible to be quite so impersonal, Commander. If I may be personal, I'm glad I'm not your wife.
Cmdr. Michael Haydon: And if I may be personal, so am I.

Bazinga!  Oooh, that smarts!  So when the Brits embark on their first excursion guiding a manned (pardon me, STAFFED--that sexism is contagious, as this film relishes keeping women in their "proper place") stratospheric jet rocket into space, we must prepare ourselves less for shocking monstrosity of styrofoam and pneumatic tubing and more for the talky tedium of restrained suspense.  In fact, we (the audience and the plot) don't even take off until roughly forty minutes into the 84-minute travelogue.  After some interesting footage of "mid-fuselage-mounted delta-wing, heavy, large, long-range, multiple-crew, 4-engined" Avro Vulcans and test crafts, the film rockets into a lengthy period of exposition in which pilots' wives and girlfriends either whine and worry or dash off with other friends to parties while politicos argue and plot logistics--all with dry business-as-usual detachment.

By the time our heroes--Commander Michael Haydon (Kieron Moore), radio man Jimmy Wheeler (Bryan Forbes), cheerful Larry Noble (Mary Noble, Backstage Wife's husband), uber-serious "Lefty" Blake (Barry Keegan) and the hairpin hysterical Professor Merrity (Donald Wolfit)--take off as seen in the clip supplied, we're so beaten by the non-action, we might have given up, but still with good old American hope, we plunge on and find ourselves modestly rewarded for sticking with the film.  For little did we know the flight into space was not just a sightseeing mission, but most of the crew were in the dark about its real purpose: to release an experimental ultra-nuclear Tritonian Bomb as a deterrent to international war, proving the innate futility of mass destruction.

Unfortunately, the old game changer Logic and a couple other sticky wickets gum up the game: Snoopy snotty reporter Kim Hamilton (Lois Maxwell, forever known as Miss Moneypenny in the Bond pictures) has stowed away in a supply closet, her extra weight (even though she's trim and comely) endangering the safety of the crew (but let's not dwell on that) and now provides the necessary function of keeping the crew supplied with sandwiches and coffee (!).  "Some of you attractive young women think you've nothing to do but smile and wave your hips and everything's forgiven," scolds Haydon who has a love-hate relationship with her.

Additionally, when they release the Bomb, its internal propulsion system fails and it drifts back to attach itself to the rear of the ship like a pesky space barnacle, dooming the crew to a future of space junk and stardust unless they can release its magnetic pull, toss it back into deep space and hightail it out of there before it showers the stars with myriad multi-color radiation beams.  Now to me--who has so much scientific knowledge at my disposal I can place it all in a flea's navel and still have room for a four-course steak dinner, a Slinky AND a staircase it can descend--it doesn't quite make sense that the guys who spacewalk are not tethered to their ship but just sneak out and crawl alongside the craft until they get to the Bomb.  What in God's name is keeping them from spinning out into the cosmos?  Good, clean living?

And how is it that they have a space suit that perfectly adheres to Kim Hamilton's form?  Did she stop by Frederick's of Carnaby Street and pick up her own before hiding away in a storage closet?  If she really hates science as she says, from the loss of her father and brother to bombastic investigations of their own, what conceivable reason brought her to this flight?  A byline?  An exclusive chronicling how it feels to be nuked into the vacuum of space?  I wish I had seen this film with Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstetler to check its scientific relativism.

But the special effects are solid for 1956, especially since they were executed by Walter Joseph "Wally" Veevers, who would go on to provide assistance to Kubrick in *Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb* (1964) and *2001: A Space Odyssey* (1968) as well as Richard Donner's *Superman* (1978).  And the score is positively riveting by Albert Elms, who scored television's *The Champions* and portions of *The Prisoner*; it is simply a soaring, majestic musical accompaniment to the really fine special effects, a worthy precursor to John Barry and John Williams' space epics.

You will find some suspense in the last half hour, and you don't have to go looking for it, even though by today's standards the plot and science grounding the movie are nearly laughable.  *Satellite In Space* is a little slow to begin, and the emotional investment in the characters is nil, but it's worth a viewing if for nothing else than for its pristine color palate, its nostalgic value at seeing Lois Maxwell before she was Moneypenny, and the pure ecstatic pleasure of seeing the condescending scientist Merrity go from stodgy to soggy in his own nuclear meltdown when his Bomb fails to do what he's designed it to do.  You may be staring at the magical mystery of how your lumbricals work so well for the first half of the film, but you'll see it all ends with a bang.  And it's big, even if the movie isn't.  
Enjoy.
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Space Cadet on 1/6/2020, 5:54 pm

Jeff, I'm pretty sure Ya snuck a stealth vocabulary lesson in on us, in the World Without End post. And Ya definitely got the song "Whip It" stuck in my head with the "We are Devo" comment.

Are Ya actually an evil genius, tryin' to take over the world one pointy little head at a time?
Space Cadet
Space Cadet
Admin

Posts : 710
Join date : 2013-04-06
Location : Central Florida

https://cobaltclubannex.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/6/2020, 6:22 pm

Space, I'd never be so evil as to work on increasing vocabulary, not for one Scrabulous or Lexulous second.
Jeff Evil or Very Mad

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/7/2020, 6:51 pm

Post #254: Wahl, hello there, Pardner, and welcome to Death Of Truth Valley Days, sponsored by 20 Mule Team Boraxo, the only combustible cleaning product that will strip the skin clean off the bone if you're dumb enough to use it as a hand soap. Today the ole Prospector has a real treat in store for you--Gene Tierney in *Belle Starr* (1941), alongside Randolph Scott and Dana Andrews. As is customary here at the L-7 Ranch and Movin' Picture Palace, any similarity between these cinema folk and any historical human bean is purely coincidental and one devil of a longshot too, while we're at it. Only the names have remained unchanged to protect the innocent. In fact, we could easily rename this here picture as *Gone With The Breakin' Wind Sweepin' Across Missouri*. But we won't; we'll jess hitch back and heart-palpitate to the beauty of Gene Tierney and enjoy every minute of it. It's jess like Hank Ford said, "History is bunk."

Yup, the gorgeous Gene Tierney is in her prime, as you can see from the rare screen test posted in place of a trailer, which I couldn't find anywhere. There are plenty of nice close-ups of her liquid, limpid eyes in this film, and she's pulling out all the stops to turn back time and make David Selznick reconsider her for the role of Scarlet O'Hara. She would have been terrific in that role, but she's fairly feisty here too.

The story, of course, is pure romanticized hokum, as we know the historical Belle Starr had climbed to the top of the Ugly Tree, fallen out of it, and hit every branch on the way down. From the photos I've seen she bears more than a passing resemblance to Moe Howard of the Three Stooges than to Gene Tierney. She wasn't particularly nice or graceful either, married and divorced twice, ran with a very rough crowd and spent nine months' time in the Detroit House of Corrections for horse thievery. True West Magazine says she was “bony and flat-chested with a mean mouth; hatchet faced; [a] gotch-toothed tart” whose greatest offence was staling that horse. Sam Starr, though played by Randolph Scott in the film, was actually of Cherokee ancestry and not the charming quasi-mercenary we see in the film. Together they were not the idealized justice seekers we empathize with under Irving Cummings' direction.

So let's make that a great big, hulking caveat: This is a southern Civil War western showcasing the soft-focus luminescence of Gene Tierney. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We start off the horse opera shortly after the close of the Civil War, as hardcore Southerners mourn the loss of their glory days when all the women wore hoop skirts with the circumference of a suburban cul-de-sac, men pumped out their chests like strutting peacocks and all the African Americans would just as soon stay with their "families" of white people as dream of walking on the sidewalk in freedom. (Yes, there is plenty of the 1940s racial profiling in this film, which is egregious enough to make you draw your head down between your shoulders and disappear into your chest cavity during particularly racist moments; thank God Louise Beavers brings her requisite dignity to her role as. . . ahem, Belle's "Mammy Lou.")

Belle starts out as Belle Shirley, disillusioned and determined to hold on to her Southern vestiges and revile the Yankees, particularly Major Thomas Crail (Dana Andrews) though her brother Ed (John Shepperd) wants to call it bygones. That's all well and good, but when Crail receives his orders that the Shirley plantation must be confiscated and burned to the ground (shade of Tara, fiddle de dee), he's not about to balk at the chain of Yankee command for the glistening blue eyes of Belle. And so Belle takes up with a ragtag band of guerrilla mercenaries led by the charismatic, so very polite and gentlemanly Sam Starr (Randolph Scott), breaking him out of jail and riding with him to seek vengeance for the crimes against milt juleps.

Inexplicably she's a crack shot, just another honeyed attraction to make Sam want to roll over onto his back and have her scratch his stomach. (Shoot, I would) So that raises the central question about enjoying this movie: Purely as a western, divorced from reality and just existing as an entertainment, how does it hold up? Well, as a straight western it's pretty bloodless, that is, it's not particularly long on action or suspense. Sam really seems to be more of a dupe than a cunning lawbreaker, a basically principled guy who's fallen in with the likes of the ruthless Cole Brothers who advance their own criminal intents under his banner. A nice turn by Chill Wills who plays Blue Duck allows for some more authentic western flavor and humor, but his scenes are brief grace notes.

As a period piece, again, it's a mixed blessing: With a screenplay by veteran writers Lamar Trotti (*Young Mr. Lincoln*, *Drums Along the Mohawk*, *The Ox-Bow Incident*, and *Yellow Sky*) and story by Niven Busch (*Duel in the Sun*, *Pursued*, and *The Furies*), the historical inaccuracies make this much more a romance with horses thrown in than a classic hoot-and-holler. Clearly *Belle Starr* was hoping to capitalize on the wake of *GWTW* more than the rough and tumble days of the wild west. For me, it's a nice opportunity to catch Gene Tierney in embraceable Technicolor with an emphasis on emotions and allegiances rather than rugged individuality set against the roughest of terrain.

Under more experienced action-director's hands and eyes, this might have succeeded more than it does. Director Irving Cummings was much more well known for his splashy musicals and his work with Shirley Temple, so here he misses the gravitas or gritty underpinning that the story requires. And Lord forgive me, but I didn't care for Gene Tierney's faux-southern drawl which for me drew her overall performance into the realm of caricature. Alfred Newman's score, large portions of which were drawn from his soundtrack for *Young Mr. Lincoln*, is capable but not his usual soaring accompaniment. He does, however, prompt an sincere emotional response at the film's conclusion as the film turns darkly sentimental, tragic, and indeed heart-tugging in its final moments; but it's an odd denouement albeit a foregone conclusion that Belle was headed toward no happy ending.

So *Belle Starr* is for me an unusual film hybrid, an enjoyable if ponderous 87-minute treatment that offers us yet more chances to see our star in her glowing prime. Even though the material and its treatment may not offer her a powerhouse acting opportunity, her loveliness is enough to make Randolph Scott cry and old black men sitting in the whirling dust spin yarns that she was "a led-jun." 'T'weren't Belle Starr they were moonin' over--'twas Gene Tierney, an' I was right there with 'em, dadgummit, jess a'snifflin' like I'd washed my face with Boraxo.
Enjoy.
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/8/2020, 3:27 pm

Post #255: It's going on 42 years since stuntman AJ Bakunas fell to his death from Lexington, Kentucky's Kincaid Towers during the filming of today's feature, *Steel (aka Men Of Steel, aka Look Down And Die*) (1979). In his second 323-foot fall from the building, Bakunas was unharmed until the safety airbag cushioning his landing ruptured; Bakunas had successfully made the stunt from the ninth floor, but hearing someone had beaten his record, he attempted a tenth floor drop to reclaim his title, and it was that second jump that ended his life. You can see the fall chronicled in the film's opening sequence as George Kennedy's character Big Lew Cassidy slips from the high-rise.

Star and executive producer Lee Majors (*The Six-Million Dollar Man* and *The Fall Guy*) whose Fawcett-Majors Productions bankrolled the film, said to Bakunas in the days before the final stunt, "Now go back and keep preparing because I wanna keep you around. Well,it should be exciting, but one thing I'd like to know, are world records worth the risk? It's obvious to AJ Bakunas, it is. We'll see,"

Dedicated to Bakunas, the film itself is a minor classic of drama and suspense co-starring Art Carney, Jennifer O'Neill and a host of colorful supporting actors including Terry Kiser, Harris Yulin, Richard Lynch, Albert Salmi, Robert Tessier and Roger E. Mosely. But the film rests solely on the shoulders of Lee Majors as Mike Catton, a near-legendary steel hanger who's called in to finish a job after the death of Big Lew Cassidy (George Kennedy) who died saving a "frozen" man [a worker clinging to a girder in fear] during construction of the tallest building in the city. Catton assembles the dream team to accomplish the impossible--race time and the bank to complete nine floors in three weeks, or face losing the contract to the unscrupulous competition (Harris Yulin as Eddie Cassidy, a corner cutter and price inflator).

*Steel* remains one of those guilty pleasures from a 2020 perspective, as the Dream Team of highly accomplished professionals are the very definition of macho posturing and womanizing braggadocio. Valentino (Terry Kiser, who played Bernie in *Weekend At Bernie's*) is a smooth-talking horndog, Cherokee (Robert Tessier) is a silent native American with a gaze that can bend steel even after he's beaned by a hanging girder, Dancer (Richard Lynch) sarcastically and caustically dogs Catton every step of the way, Tank (Albert Salmi) is a practical joker who drops an I-beam on the bad guys' car, and Lionel (Roger E. Mosely) pushes on in the face of tragedy. Only Mike Catton, who hides his deep vertiginous fear from a past personal failure, conducts business as the foreman from the lower levels. . . until his men find out about his weakness.

Art Carney as Pignose Moran brings tough seriousness to his role as devoted friend to Big Lew and his niece Cass Cassidy (Jennifer O'Neill) and overseer of the project. He takes a hard knuckle to the jaw and still cracks wise in the face of personal injury. Jennifer O'Neill provides the love interest and eye candy for Mike as he struggles with set-backs and sabotages and paralyzing self-doubt. Okay, *Steel* is a little formulaic, a solid B-film that offers a nice mixture of light moments and gravitas, but the appeal for me is its focus on a group of American heroes whose story has not been told very often in film, if ever. Amid all the seething testosterone and the constancy of needing to prove oneself as men who stand up to all odds and all comers lies a pumping American heart.

It's a film that's fairly elusive on disc, and Youtube has conveniently chopped it up into eleven bite-sized ten-minute clips in a pretty grainy transfer, but *Steel* stands as a comfortable 102-minute tour of loyalty, gumption, courage, friendship and yes, patriotism. A final scene celebrating the hanging of Old Glory over the skyline of Kentucky can bring a lump to the throat of even the most stoic observer. Along the way, though the good and bad guys are painted with a brush wide enough to coat the entire building in one swipe of Sherwin Williams, we see a paean to the men who gets jobs done, and done right.

For years *Steel* has been a great old standby for our family. It doesn't demand a lot from you, and it rests securely in the Solid Story Of The Seventies genre--the best traits of America versus the worst, integrity vs. money grubbing cash-and-dash. So there are no big moral lessons here, no powerful conflicting interests dragging a basically good person into the dark side, just good old-fashioned durable story telling. And every once in a while it's nice to relax with some familiar faces emoting to challenges that test their mettle. . . and their metal. . . in a testament to the men who put their lives on the line to do what they love best, even when that job takes their sacrifice.
Enjoy.
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Space Cadet on 1/8/2020, 6:55 pm

Hey Jeff. Ya been busy. How about joinin' me in the newly renovated lounge at Mars's Place. I hear Frenchie has created a new drink. Somethin' called The Floor Knocker. And it just occurred to me, that new moderators have to cover the admin's drinks for the first month of their newly minted position. So, we can get happily sloshed on Greybelt's tab. Besides, I wanna see if Greybelt's position is vertical or horizontal. Especially after we pour a couple of drinks into him.
Space Cadet
Space Cadet
Admin

Posts : 710
Join date : 2013-04-06
Location : Central Florida

https://cobaltclubannex.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Seamus on 1/8/2020, 7:30 pm

Found this today laughed my ass off knew you would appreciate this.
The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 _2020011
Seamus
Seamus
Admin

Posts : 487
Join date : 2013-05-06
Location : Big Trouble in Little China

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/8/2020, 8:26 pm

Oh heavens! I thought everyone had forgotten about my book years ago. Some things just never let you live down past indiscretions. I'll tell you guys all about it when we're bending elbows in the new Lounge.

[That's hilarious, Seamus.] What a Face affraid
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Seamus on 1/9/2020, 12:55 pm

Love the "Her Shameless Lust Won Her A - Weirdo Stud who seems to throw away perfectly good bra's
Seamus
Seamus
Admin

Posts : 487
Join date : 2013-05-06
Location : Big Trouble in Little China

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Space Cadet on 1/9/2020, 1:34 pm

I'm just tryin' to figure out who that guy looks like. That face seems familiar.
Space Cadet
Space Cadet
Admin

Posts : 710
Join date : 2013-04-06
Location : Central Florida

https://cobaltclubannex.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by CompleteDayMan on 1/9/2020, 3:00 pm

Yes, I admit it, 'twas I. Razz
CompleteDayMan
CompleteDayMan

Posts : 497
Join date : 2013-04-22
Location : Deepinahearta, TX

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/9/2020, 3:09 pm

Good to know. I'm actually more interested in the woman. . . .
Jeff Cool

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Space Cadet on 1/9/2020, 3:17 pm

I'm just happy to find out that it isn't blurry photographic proof of one of my own alchohol driven youthful indescretions.
Space Cadet
Space Cadet
Admin

Posts : 710
Join date : 2013-04-06
Location : Central Florida

https://cobaltclubannex.forumotion.com

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by ghemrats on 1/9/2020, 7:18 pm

Well, it ain't *Weirdo Stud* but it is worth watching. . . .

Post #256: To watch this trailer developed by the production company Hecht Hill Lancaster, you'd think today's film is a lurid potboiler bubbling over with sexploitation and the fury of Burt Lancaster. But you'd be wrong, and that's why I think to some degree Lancaster's production team added another mistake by mounting this teaser as they have, another of their missteps in the production of this fine film. While their "tweaking" of the director's vision made for some weirdly discordant changes, our film today still stands as a Must See Put It On Your List Now feature.

*Separate Tables* (1958) is a terrific classic I'm ashamed to say I never watched before last evening, even though it stars my favorite roster of talent--Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Rita Hayworth (toward the end of her career), Gladys Cooper, Wendy Hiller, Cathleen Nesbitt and of course Burt Lancaster. Nominated for eight Academy Awards and winner of two, Terence Rattigan's tinkered with his two-act play to expand his pensive and moving study of loneliness to a marvelous end.

Delbert Mann (Academy Award winning director of *Marty* 1955) crafts a powerful investigation of his ensemble cast, fluidly moving and intertwining their characters' lives in the Beauregard Hotel, Bournemouth, England, "three minutes from the sea," in December, the off-season. After being ushered into the beveled glass sanctuary of the hotel by one of the worst opening themes I have ever heard (it's so bad I initially thought it was a parody of bad soundtracks), we are subtly introduced to the tenants, their foibles and insecurities. The majority of the participants are British actors, and so lend great character and poise to their roles that allow them seamless credibility.

First we meet Major David Angus Pollock (David Niven, who won a Best Actor Academy Award, his only nomination and win, though his role is the shortest ever for such an honor, allowing only 23 minutes and 39 seconds of screen time). He is loquacious and ready to extol his war record, charming the fiercely introspective, mother-dominated Sibyl (Deborah Kerr) with his exploits and "What ho, Eh Wot" patois. Sibyl's mother Mrs. Maud Railton-Bell (Gladys Cooper) holds high court and judgment over everyone entering the hotel, acting as moral arbiter for all, including her confidante the recessive Lady Gladys Matheson (Cathleen Nesbitt), even though the owner of the hotel is Pat Cooper (Wendy Hiller) who accommodates everyone.

Enter Anne Shankland (Rita Hayworth, still beautiful), a socialite divorced from the volatile, alcoholic John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster) who has unresolved feelings of love for him. She entices John, telling him she's engaged and trading barbs with him in an undercurrent of begrudging mutual attraction, as John is also engaged, to Pat Cooper. Anne and John's attraction seethes and seizes in the close quarters of the hotel as they sit at separate tables but perform a delicate dance of longing around one another. And amidst the sexual tensions, relatively frank for 1958, a young couple (Rod Taylor and a spicy Audrey Dalton) bounce off one another as the young man tries in vain to study up for his medical exams while his young girlfriend persists in amorous pursuit as they try to determine if they should marry or not.

*Separate Tables* reminds us that we are all isolated in our own private worlds, wrestling with secrets and self delusions we'd rather not encounter but pretend they didn't poke at us in perpetual annoyance. When despite his efforts to contain an embarrassing and self-destructive pattern of behavior, the Major is made to face his relatively harmless indiscretions, thanks to the invasive Mrs. Railton-Bell, who seeks to evict him from the hotel, partially to further inhibit her daughter over whom she holds sway. Learning of the Major's behavior, Sibyl, secretly in love with him, is decimated, just as her mother desired. And the tenuous triangle of Anne, John and Pat bristles with energy and interpersonal tension as the narcissistic Anne continues her manipulation of John in her anguished entrapment of emotional confusion.

These are very adult, complicated studies of individuated loneliness, essentially bold sketches of desperation, people held prisoner on their own islands (or tables) by their own inefficiencies and deficiencies. Some are self-imposed (Mrs. Railton-Bell), some are borne of social insecurity (The Major), while others spring from painful self-denial of worth (Sybil) and pressures applied through class struggles and personal enmity (Anne and John). Some retreat in subjugation, while others fight and claw at one another for what they represent or what they reflect in themselves. And *Separate Tables* masterfully holds up panes of beveled glass to us, windows that splinter and distort slightly but still offer us opportunities to see ourselves: With whom do we most identify? Are we more comfortable hiding through facades and glorifications of our essential nature, or do we project hostility toward that falseness by attacking others? Perhaps we're like Pat Cooper who stands back to see the procession of human frailties with the hope of healing from a distance, working behind the scenes to move others to initiate their own redemption. Ah, the human comedy.

In the compact 100 minutes of dense character study, the film is a marvel for David Niven and Wendy Hiller specifically and the rest of the cast generally. This is a David Niven we're not used to seeing--a man freighted by doubt and fear, and the greatest most palpable fear derives from his deep seated inability to connect on any level that is not cloaked in imaginative invention. We see him crumble and collapse in confrontation and contrition, an achingly poignant shell of the man he assumes himself to be. And across from the equally repressed, beaten Deborah Kerr--so different from her usual colorful, vibrant roles of self assurance--the Major's tragic self grows even more a study in dynamic stillness. According to Delbert Mann, Deborah Kerr found her role as Sybil a great challenge since she needed to strip away any semblance of confidence and drive, traits that countermanded her own nature. But the juxtaposition of characters is deeply felt and sharply observed.

When confronted, the Major mirrors fears playwright Terence Rattigan housed as he was growing up gay, a crime in England in the 1950s: " I'm not trying to defend it... You'll never guess this, I know, but ever since school I've always been scared to death of women... of everyone, in a way, I suppose, but mostly of women. I had a bad time at school - which wasn't Wellington, of course, it was just a counsel school... Boys hate other boys to be timid and shy, and they gave it to me good and proper. My father despised me, too. He was a Sergeant major in the Scots Guards. He made me join the Army, but I was always a bitter disappointment to him. He died before I got my commission. I got that by a wangle, too. It wasn't very difficult at the beginning of the war. But it meant everything to me, just the same: being saluted, being called 'sir.' I thought, 'I'm someone now, a real person. Perhaps some woman might even...' But it didn't work. It never has worked. I'm made in a certain way and I can't change it."

Rita Hayworth brings some emotional rawness to the role of fashion model Anne as she saunters very much out of place in her evening gown into the dining room and plants herself regally at her table, adjacent to Burt Lancaster's John, where they can interact without looking at one another. Delbert Mann suggested this was one of Rita's best portrayals, if not the best of her career. She delivers a strong fear of age in one scene, while battling demons she's harbored for years. John rebukes her, "You know something, Ann? No one I know of lies with such sincerity." British critic David Shipman said of Rita, “She was ravishing in black and white, and breathtaking when (very sensibly) they put her into Technicolor: auburn-haired, brown-eyed, and with the proverbial peaches-and-cream complexion. It wasn’t just physical allure. She had the special star luster.” In spite of it all, Mann observed that Rita was “frightened to death” of the stage-trained actors in the cast and she put her trust entirely in him as her director, as she shared some of the same fears as her role.

Even in the background, secondary characters like Felix Aylmer's Mr. Fowler, the retired and perhaps cast away professor, and May Hallatt's Miss Meacham, who scours the betting forms, weave in and out of the main conflicts, underscoring the sense of solitude: Mr. Fowler waits in vain for former students to visit him, and Miss Meacham dispenses advice on betting that no one seems to hear. Indeed the Beaurgard itself is flowing with prisms and glass doors which allow tenants to see one another but also cut them off from intimate contact. From a filmmaking perspective this is genius--allowing free movement from inhibiting walls and unique marking of scenes, and from through a symbolic lens we feel the power of forced isolation: You can see one another, but don't get too close. stay at your own separate tables and pull back in your interactions.

Mann's measured, precise direction was dealt a blow when the production company (Hecht Hill Lancaster) wrested control over the final print and re-edited the finished version, altering scenes and cutting others completely. On winning her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Wendy Hiller said, "All you could see of me in the picture was the back of my head. Unless they give some award for acting with one's back to the camera, I don't see how I could have won. They cut my two best scenes and gave one to Rita Hayworth." [James Hill of the company was married to Rita Hayworth at the time (1958-1961, her fifth and final marriage before succumbing to Alzheimer's). Vivien Leigh was originally slated to play Anne, but when her husband Laurence Olivier decided not to direct, she dropped out. One of the reasons cited for their re-editing of the film is Lancaster's "late" introduction as one of the four principal characters; thus the film was re-edited to make an earlier entrance.]

In Mann's vision a pool room sequence showing May Hallett's split shot--sinking two balls on the billiard table--was filmed in one sustained take with a moving camera, carefully demonstrating Hallett's making the difficult shot herself and not resorting to a cut in the continuity. Unfortunately, that scene was re-edited, destroying the long-rehearsed shot. Another change in the film mandated by Hecht Hill Lancaster was the reordering of David Raskin's score, adding a completely, annoyingly innocuous theme song sung by Vic Damone. It was almost enough to make me turn off the film before it began. But for these tonal and stylistic shifts Delbert Mann severed all ties with the production company afterward.

Since we're in the confessional mode here, I confess I could write much more about this film, but why press my luck. I'll just say See This and you'll not be disappointed with the skill, brittle sadness and whisper of hope *Separate Tables* can offer you. What a special place setting it is, and your dinner guests could not be more compelling. Chow down.
Enjoy.
Jeff

_________________
GHEMRATS
"WRONG! You had Special K with bananas!" What a Face
ghemrats
ghemrats

Posts : 858
Join date : 2013-04-19
Age : 67
Location : Bob Ufer's Meeechigan!

Back to top Go down

The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony - Page 13 Empty Re: The Cobalt Screening Room Balcony

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Page 13 of 28 Previous  1 ... 8 ... 12, 13, 14 ... 20 ... 28  Next

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum