Thursday, December 17, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 56

Ivan Grozny - Part 1 (1944, Soviet Union, Eisenstein) - A delirious fantasy about Russia's great and all-powerful Führer, a man who is worshipped by The People and will soon make Russia into a Third Rome, ready to unleash its holy fury on all who stand in its way. Watched it all. Starring Gaahl as Ivan the Terrible.

The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944, USA, Rapper) - Mark Twain was born under a comet, and grew up with Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and slaveboy Jim. At twelve, he lectured the elders at the temple about the scriptures, and everyone was amazed at his understanding. Watched: 7 minutes.

National Velvet (1944, USA, Brown) - England in the 1920's. A land of green meadows and stern but nice authority figures. Watched: 20 minutes. Introducing Elizabeth Taylor as a horse-mad 12-year old.

The Halfway House (1944, UK, Dearden) - A magical inn in Wales appears from thin air whenever someone needs help to work out their problems. The problems in this case include a couple who wants to get divorced, a captain who thinks he's a coward, and a girl with an Irish boyfriend. Watched it all.

The Uninvited (1944, USA, Allen) - Some uninteresting people move into a house that may or may not be haunted. Watched: 12 minutes.

The Lady and the Monster (1944, USA, Sherman) - It was a dark and stormy night. The mad scientist was hard at work in his castle, connecting dead monkeys to electrodes. Watched: 8 minutes.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Keep Your Mouth Shut (1944)

The talking Nazi skull's plan for victory:

1. Give all the epilectics in the audience a seizure
2. Make everybody else feel guilty for having killed their loved ones
3. Victory!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 55

Murder, My Sweet (1944, USA, Dmytryk) - This is about as good as noir movie titles get. And the movie itself is good too. I've seen it before, which may be why I was able to follow much of the plot, but the plot is incidental. The approach is expressionistic: Thugs, dames and cops, and Philip Marlowe in the middle. Watched it all.

Wilson (1944, USA, King) - Here I draw the line: A presidential biopic that plays the Hail to the Chief in the intro?! (Every time I hear that tune I think of Blazing Saddles.) Watched: 11 minutes.

Hotel Reserve (1944, USA) - The pre-war French police asks an amateur photographer for help to find a German spy. It's no wonder they lost. Watched: 17 minutes.

Voodoo Man (1944, USA, Beaudine) - Bela Lugosi is kidnapping women for use in a ritual that will bring his dead wife back to life. Finally an enjoyable B-horror! Watched it all.

Dragon Seed (1944, USA, Conway) - Americans pretend what it's like to live in China, an exotic country that is so far away that it was not even possible to get hold of Chinese actors. Watched 13 minutes, then fast forwarded to see what the Japanese soldiers looked like: Mediterranean, with moustaches and lecherous grins.

Bride by Mistake (1944, USA, Wallace) - It's nice to be a veteran. You can relax and play ping-pong, and there's a rich woman living right next door you can go flirt with. Watched: 12 minutes.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 54

Lifeboat (1944, USA, Hitchcock) - A group of strangers are thrown together in a lifeboat, and must find a way to tolerate each other. One is a Communist, another a self-centered reporter - and then there's a Nazi from the submarine that just sunk their ship. Watched it all.

Enemy of Women (1944, USA, Zeisler) - I expected war movies made during the war to be less like Lifeboat, and more like this, a cheap, sensationalistic character assassination of Joseph Goebbels. I was wrong. Watched: 13 minutes.

Once Upon a Time (1944, USA, Hall) - Where lesser people would only see a worm that wiggles, theatre producer Cary Grant has the vision to see a caterpillar that can dance. Watched: 21 minutes.

Champagne Charlie (1944, UK, Cavalcanti) - Ealing Studios celebrates the popular culture of their grandparents. Two music hall artists in the 1860's compete with each other about making the most popular song about alcohol. Watched it all.

Standing Room Only (1944, USA, Lanfield) - Factory girl Paulette Goddard tricks her way into the highest position a woman can dream of: becoming the handsome manager's secretary. Watched: 9 minutes.

Return of the Vampire (1944, USA, Landers) - Foggy graveyard: Check. Boring people who struggle to fit the supernatural into their narrow little scientific minds: Check. Watched: 8 minutes.

Port of 40 Thieves (1944, USA, English) - Turns out there are noir movies that aren't the least bit interesting. Watched: 15 minutes.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 53

Henry V (1944, UK, Olivier) - Hey this is fantastic: It starts with the play being staged in the Globe Theatre in front of an audience, who cheers and jeers and laughs at the jokes. It's all a bit clumsy and self-deprecating. Then it gradually moves out into the real world, still looking cheap, but with Laurence Olivier radiating every single moment he is on the screen. Watched it all. Released in July 1944, when Britain was fighting a war in France that, unlike Agincourt, actually deserved this scene:

The Fighting Rats of Tobruk (1944, Australia, Chauvel) - I've been waiting for a really bad war movie to come along, and here it is! Watched: 9 minutes.

I bambini ci guardano (1944, Italy, De Sica) - A bunch of unlikeable Italians have marriage problems. Watched: 18 minutes.

The Mask of Dimitrios (1944, USA, Negulesco) - Peter Lorre researches the life of Dimitrios, a criminal genius who has been murdered but is such a clever character that it's no surprise that he isn't dead after all. Considering the silly plot twists of some recent movies, it is actually a bit of a let-down that that is all there is to it. I was hoping that Dimitrios would turn out to be Peter Lorre, who had undergone cosmetic surgery and was retreading his own past just to mess with the minds of his enemies. Watched it all.

None But the Lonely Heart (1944, USA, Odets) - Cary Grant with an atrocious English accent. Watched: 13 minutes.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 52

To Have and Have Not (1944, USA, Hawks) - Casablanca 2 - he's back, and this time he .. still doesn't give a damn about anything, but he'll stick up for the good guys in the end. It's a shame that this is so similar to Casablanca, because that makes you notice the ways in which it isn't quite as good, such as Bogart's Jar Jar-ish drunkard friend. Watched it all.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944, USA, Minnelli) - Yes, two are the types of musicals that I hate: Patriotic war musicals and old timey musicals about the good old days. But the opening number, where people sort of randomly take over the song from each other, is brilliant. Watched: 7 minutes.

Two Thousand Women (1944, UK, Launder) - A group of British women are interned in France - in a fancy hotel, two to each room. This must have been where the Nazis stationed all the nice Germans, the ones who were maybe a bit strict but essentially harmless. Watched: 15 minutes.

Miyamoto Musashi (1944, Japan, Mizoguchi) - Further proof that Japan can't help but being awesome, even when they're assholes. Admittedly it isn't a great movie, but still: Samurais, yay! Watched it all.

Kismet (1944, USA, Dieterle) - The Thief of Bagdad, without the magic. Watched: 6 minutes.

And Now Tomorrow (1944, USA, Pichel) - And now: A serious movie about serious people dealing with serious problems. You know, I'm getting fed up with flashbacks. Watched: 7 minutes.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 51

The Hairy Ape (1944, USA) - Two egos collide on a steamboat: A spoiled, rich girl and a grunt from the engine room. This is an odd movie in many ways, some good and some bad. The best way to watch it is as a non-fantasy version of King Kong. Watched it all.

Cobra Woman (1944, USA) - Some guy goes to Cobra Island, where the cobra people live, to find his cobra woman, who has been kidnapped by her evil cobra twin. In glorious cobra color. Watched: 18 minutes.

Since You Went Away (1944, USA) - Claudette Colbert in a Serious Role, further proof of the evils of war. And who decided that 3 hour movies needed overtures? Watched: 12 minutes.

Pin Up Girl (1944, USA) - Betty Grable sings and dances, and there's a sort of plot here too. Light and fun. Watched it all.

The Conspirators (1944, USA) - Spy vs Spy in Lisbon. This sort of movie works better with Cold War communists. Watched: 23 minutes.

Buffalo Bill (1944, USA) - Joel McCrea is a simple man out of the West who sympathizes with Indians and feels bad about all those buffalos he helps slaughter. Watched: 49 minutes, which is the time it took for McCrea's unceasing earnestness to grind me down.

Phantom Lady (1944, USA) - A man's wife is murdered while he's out with an inconvenient alibi. I feel a hunt for the real killer coming on. Watched: 11 minutes.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 50

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944, USA) - Betty Hutton gets drunk, married and pregnant with a soldier - and wakes up not remembering who with. This being a Preston Sturges movie, it's all quite cheerful and noisy. Favorite line: "This is the greatest thing to happen to our state since we stole it from the Indians!" Watched it all. Contains an early version of the Hitler YouTube meme.

Summer Storm (1944, USA) - The old tsarist aristocracy was silly and decadent and out of touch with the people. Watched: 27 minutes.

Till We Meet Again (1944, USA) - Nazi schweinhunds bother French nuns. Watched: 9 minutes.

Know Your Ally: Britain (1944, USA) - Why Americans should trust the British. "There's nothing wrong with Britain that couldn't be cured with a correspondence course in showmanship." What I found most interesting were a couple of map details: Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain, Vichy France is not ruled by the Nazis, and the British Empire is quite small and insignificant, hardly any evil empire at all. Watched it all. First in a series - I wonder how they presented the Soviet Union.

Follow the Boys (1944, USA) - Vaudeville stars pat themselves on their backs over how bloody patriotic they are. Watched: 8 minutes.

The Fighting Lady (1944, USA) - Life on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, with battle footage from the Pacific. It's odd to see World War II actually being fought. Watched it all.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 49

Dark Waters (1944, USA) - A traumatized shipwreck survivor moves in with her relatives, whose insensitive behavior, bordering on the sadistic, drives her towards a nervous breakdown. Probably the scariest movie in the marathon so far, (admittedly with little competition). Everyday events are made to seem evil, without apparent reason. Watched it all.

The Keys of the Kingdom (1944, USA) - Gregory Peck has had a suspiciously tragic life: His father was beaten to death for being a Catholic, and his mother drowned, both on the same day. Watched: 11 minutes.

The Princess and the Pirate (1944, USA) - Bob Hope is a humorous humor person on the Seven Seas. Watched: 9 minutes.

Hets (1944, Sweden) - A latin teacher makes life hell for his students, but at least they have their adult life to look forward to. He must continue to live in the dark world he's created for himself, alone, forever. Watched it all. Written, but not directed, by Ingmar Bergman, his first.

Mr. Skeffington (1944, USA) - Bette Davis trying to look dumb and pretty is just creepy. Watched: 18 minutes.

A Canterbury Tale (1944, UK) - Cheeky city youngsters get in touch with their cultural roots in the countryside. I love the attitude here, cheerful and solemn. Favorite line: "We get a much better view of the cathedral now", said by a woman in a bombed out area of Canterbury. Watched it all.

Christmas Holiday (1944, USA) - Heartbroken lieutenant ends up in brothel, finds love! Watched: 19 minutes.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 48

Jane Eyre (1944, USA) - A series of unfortunate events. It's all quite ridiculous, but I love the style: Almost a horror movie, set in an alternate England of fog, shadows and sadists. I haven't read the novel, is it the same or meant to be taken seriously? Watched it all.

The Suspect (1944, USA) - Kind middle-aged Charles Laughton gets a lover and murders his wife. I can understand why. Watched: 16 minutes. In one scene, (this is set in 1902), his girlfriend walks into a London tobacco store. The shopkeeper says, "we don't sell cigarettes to women", and she says, "no, of course not." What?!

Jungle Woman (1944, USA) - Animals turned into people. People turned into animals. Watched: 13 minutes.

The Canterville Ghost (1944, USA) - American soldiers ain't afraid of no ghosts, but one of them is afraid of battle, and freezes when he's supposed to shoot at Germans. It takes the help of a six year old girl and the Canterville ghost to teach him bravery. Watched it all. (Btw, the "well-known fact" that most WWII soldiers never fired at the enemy is probably untrue.)

It Happened Tomorrow (1944, USA) - A journalist gets hold of tomorrow's newspaper. Nobody believes him, and no wonder, when he's so annoying about it. Watched: 24 minutes.

Frenchman's Creek (1944, USA) - Joan Fontaine, a 17th century lady, leaves her fool of a husband to seek quiet at the coast, where she is kidnapped by Romantic Pirates. Bosom-heaving and sword-fights follow. Watched: 24 minutes.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

40's movies marathon - best of 1943

As a service for readers who have misunderstood the movie marathon concept, and think it's about me being nice and selecting all the Classic Movies for you, here's my favorites from 1943:

Good war movies

This Land is Mine
Five Graves to Cairo

War movies (and cartoons) that transcend good and bad, and should be watched for mindblowing historical reasons

Victory Through Air Power (Pictures)
Mission to Moscow
Private SNAFU

Dark movies from the dark continent

Vredens Dag
Le Corbeau

Axis movies

Sugata Sanshiro


The Fallen Sparrow
Shadow of a Doubt

Peculiar Britishness

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

American self-doubt

The Ox Bow Incident

Segregated musicals

Stormy Weather

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Friday, November 27, 2009

40's movies marathon - part 47

Ministry of Fear (1944, USA) - Fritz Lang imitates Hitchcock. It's all there: The regular guy running away across the country, suspected of a crime he didn't commit. The sinister spy ring with tentacles into all the best circles. Also the sense that it would all have been simpler if he'd just come clean with the police from the start. But what would be the fun of that? Watched it all.

Cry of the Werewolf (1944, USA) - Begins with a werewolf princess living in hiding among gypsies, (yay!), but then there's the same old story where a couple of normal people struggle with how to fit the strange things they've experienced into their boring rational worldviews. Yes yes, werewolves and vampires and voodoo rituals are real, now get on with the movie. Watched: 17 minutes.

On Approval (1944, UK) - Two aristocrats and their friends move out onto an island for a month to see if they could stand being married to each other. Watched it all. I love how the introduction tries to show the contrast between the modern 40's and the naughty 90's.

Bathing Beauty (1944, USA) - Apparently an excuse to show off beautiful swimsuit models in Technicolor. Unfortunately I hate the music. Watched: 8 minutes, then fast forwarded to see if there was any good music at all. There was, and also a man in a tutu, and a message at the end about how this movie will be shown to soldiers overseas, which I think they appreciated.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Victory Through Air Power (1943)

Some pictures from Victory Through Air Power, the 1943 Disney movie I mentioned earlier, a crazy stunt pulled by Walt Disney to change the Allied war strategy.

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40's movies marathon - part 46

Victory Through Air Power (1943, USA) - Not propaganda as such, but an argument made by Disney and an ex-Russian pilot, aimed in part at the Allied governments, about how air power should be used to win the war. It's informative, awe-inducing, and quirky in that Disney way. Opens with a history of flight, and ends with scenes of the fiery hell Allied bombers will rain on Japan's industrial areas once they learn how to overcome the great distances. Can you believe the magnificent arrogance of Walt Disney, to use his own army of animators to convince Roosevelt of some idea he's just picked up from a book? Unbelievable. Fantastic. Watched it all.

The White Cliffs of Dover
(1944, USA) - An American nurse waits for casualties to arrive from the front, and goes into flashback mode to tell us why she loves America's dear cousins, the English. Watched: 13 minutes.

The Lodger (1944, USA) - I don't see how Jack the Ripper could have escaped the police all that time if he'd seemed so shifty and shadowy as this lodger does. Watched: 12 minutes.

Double Exposure (1944, USA) - A magazine where photographers fake their pictures and the owner is a health freak hires a Woman Photographer, causing shock and confusion. I'm not sure what to make of the intro text: "New York - Where half the girls are working girls .. and the other half are working men." What? Watched: 13 minutes.

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