Monday, August 31, 2009

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)

I finally got to watch one of my most-sought-after movies on TCM last night, 1936’s The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, starring William Powell and Jean Arthur. The film is part of what I call the Husband and Wife Detective Team genre. I did enjoy the movie, which sped by at a brisk eighty minutes. It’s not a great movie like The Thin Man, and it falls short of the 1935 Thin Man knockoff also starring Powell, Star of Midnight (1935), co-starring Ginger Rogers. But The Ex-Mrs. Bradford has enough going for it to recommend to obsessed fans of the Husband and Wife Detective sub-genre. Here we have William Powell on loan from MGM and Jean Arthur was also on loan, as she was under contract to Columbia Pictures until 1944.

Lawrence Bradford (Powell) a successful doctor, is enjoying dinner (prepared by his butler, Stokes; a shamefully underused Eric Blore) when his ex-wife Paula (Jean Arthur) comes in with a lawyer who serves Dr. Bradford—called “Brad” by Paula—with a subpoena for “non-payment of support” which the wealthy mystery writer Paula says was just an excuse to see him again. Paula joins Brad for dinner and drops the bombshell that she wants to re-marry the good doctor. According to Bradford-- in a line I’ve quoted for years—the reason for their divorce was her cockeyed murder mysteries. Why this destroyed their marriage is never explained, except that they made Dr. Bradford “a wreck.” It’s pretty thin stuff, even for a 1930s sleuthing couple movie. Anyway, a jockey dies under mysterious circumstances and the jockey’s trainer asks Brad to investigate. When the trainer ends up dead at Bradford’s door, the doctor must clear himself with the help of his kooky ex-wife; or something like that.

All the Thin Man ingredients are sort of in place but the script lets everyone down. The mystery is somewhat interesting but we never get to know the suspects or their motives. The supporting cast is flat and anonymous—even the usually-dependable James Gleason seems out of his element—and Eric Blore is criminally underused in the potentially hilarious role of the butler, Stokes. He gets one good sight gag, and that’s all. Jean Arthur gets nothing to work with and many of her lines—seeming misunderstandings—fall flat every time. She’s also filmed through an industrial-strength cheese cloth for some of her close ups--extreme even for this era! Arthur looks as though she were filmed through a cloud. And I kept waiting for William Powell to dazzle me with his usual panache, but even the potential gags and one-liners he gets don’t come off with any energy.

The real star of this film is the Art Deco apartment by Van Nest Polglase, whose praises I’ve sung before. It’s a way of fully absorbing this world that I obsess over the living quarters of a detective movie set. Dr. Bradford has a beyond-great apartment—I can’t remember if it's in New York or Los Angeles—and I spent much of the movie trying to navigate its dimensions. It has a foyer with an entrance to the living room and to Bradford’s doctor office on the other, located in the turret of the place on an upper-level floor. The living room is like a wheel with the adjoining rooms spokes leading to and from it. Watching this movie is worth it just for this great apartment. Bradford even has a projector niche hidden behind a painting that allows for movies to be shown across the dining room and on the living room wall. This is what every self-respecting, wealthy, urbane 1930s detective should have! The projector also features in the film’s closing gag and ensures a happy ending. If I ever get the chance to watch The Ex-Mrs. Bradford again, it will be to sketch out a blueprint of his elegant and sophisticated apartment.

Could RKO have had an Ex-Mrs. Bradford film series based on this single entry? Probably, but the movie is slight and half-hearted in almost every aspect of its execution, even for this genre. A better supporting cast would’ve worked wonders here, as would a coherent script with some bite. It’s barely adequate as is and even the titanic star power of Powell and Arthur cannot make it shine. The Art Deco set is a wonder, and anyone with an interest in 1930s high glamour should watch just for that. I’m a big enough fan of the Husband and Wife sub genre to watch The Ex-Mrs. Bradford over and over, but not because it’s a great—or even average—movie.

Now What Would Asta Do...?

Friday, August 28, 2009

1930s Deco Perfection

Take a look at Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, and Kay Francis. All long and lean--well, not really, of the three ladies, only Kay Francis was actually tall: 5'9" (1.75 Meters) Crawford was 5'5" and Lombard 5'2"! Hollywood had the art of illusion down pat, especially in the 1930s. I love finding photographs of 1930s stars done in a Deco-style setting. It drives home the fact that movie stars were truly at their peak of prestige and the most desirable objects--yes, objects--of the general public's fantasy during that time. It sure makes for some striking imagery.

Carole Lombard

When people think of glamour, they must think of the 1930s, an era so glamorous--at least when it came to Hollywood--that it is today--as it no doubt was then--largely unattainable because of its very perfection. 1930s gowns leave very little to the imagination: The long, satin, backless gowns expose every flaw and one must have a wonderful build to carry off this look. The short hair popular for women then isn't flattering to every face, either. You should see my wife's grandmother's 1930s nursing school yearbook--so many tragic attempts at beauty with disastrous "done at home" hairstyles--discombobulated bobs, crispy-fried Marcels...if it weren't so hilarious, it'd be four-hanky material. So many women mutilated by well-meaning friends and incompetent, small town hairstylists of semi-rural, Mid-West America. The 1940s, with its stacked shoulder pads, imposed "V" shape, and abundance of fabric is a whole lot easier to emulate because no matter what the body type, it can be done. Not so with the 1930s.

Kay Francis

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Finding" Kay Francis

One afternoon in 2006 I was scanning the channels when I stopped upon Turner Classic Movies and saw an interesting-looking 1930s movie. It may have been this one. Anyway, I forgot about the movie, but I didn't forget what proved to be my introduction to Kay Francis. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see anything else with her in it because I didn't have TCM for eighteen long, bitter, hellacious months. In fact, I wept copious tears when September, 2008 saw TCM spotlighting Kay Francis as their "Star of the Month." Curse my barbed-wire soul for not having TCM! Now that I think about it, how in blazes did I not have internet access AND Turner Classic Movies for so long??? What am I, a Buddhist monk?

Insane, ascetic lifestyle aside, it was only last week when I made sure I tuned in to Turner Classic Movies--I've had it back for a few months now--and I jumped at the chance to see 1932's pre-Code delight, Trouble In Paradise. This also happened to be the first Ernst Lubitsch film I'd ever seen in its entirety. Simply put, Trouble In Paradise is one of the few perfect movie experiences I've ever had. Not a scene, not a word of witty, literate dialogue, not a moment is wasted in this wondrous film. Miriam Hopkins, despite her limited screen time, sparkled, Herbert Marshall gave the performance of his life and then there's Kay Francis...

I'll admit to thinking she wasn't much of an actress, based on what I had foolishly surmised to be the truth. I felt that while she was charismatic and lovely, in an awkward beauty sort of way, I didn't think she had the acting "chops" to interest me.
Yet in Paradise, whatever it was she did had me watching her and listening to her wonderful-sounding voice and gazing with adoration at her perfect profile, which was showcased a lot. The film went by like a whirlwind and I barely had time to cheer before it was over. I was left dazzled by the production and I found myself on the lookout for more of Kay Francis. Sorry for the lack of deep, meaningful, and thoughtful analysis of this film, but I'm too gah-gah for that academic stuff now. I'm enjoying the thrill of discovery...

Late to the Party, but there nevertheless.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hurtling Towards Senility

One of my less-bizarre pursuits is finding a vintage anything with my birthday on it, especially if it's from the 1930s. It's even more rare to find anyone of interest who shares my birthday. Author Ray Bradbury does, but that's about it. Later tonight, I hope to be able to gum down some cake and watch Sterling Hayden movies on Turner Classic. They're airing Manhandled, a 1949 Noir film I discussed way back when.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gail Patrick, Deco Dame: Part IX

It's been too long, and since this is the tribute that would not die, I submit to you another chapter of this blog's unofficial icon, Gail Patrick.

Amazing Gail: One of the best pictures I've seen of her.

Early-30s Gail: She looks about 23 here. Nice!

"Love Crazy" Gail: Based on her dress, I'm guessing this is a promo from 1941.

Exotic Gail: I have a few in this series, where Gail looks "ethnic." Which role could this be?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Tragedy of Gig Young

I’m afraid it’s time for another entry in the Miserable Sod series.

Gig Young (1913-1978) (born Byron Elsworth Barr) is best known in classic movie circles as the “other guy” in so many 1950s movies. Young often played the dapper, likable second banana to the major stars of the time. He took the name “Gig Young” from a character he played in the 1942 film The Gay Sisters, a Barbara Stanwyck film. I fondly recall his role in Desk Set alongside Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, as well as Young at Heart, Teacher’s Pet, and That Touch of Mink. But to me, he’ll always be Martin Sloan, the harried businessman who yearns for his lost childhood in the haunting Twilight Zone episode, “Walking Distance.” Young’s durability as a character actor ensured that he would continue working into the 1960s and 70s. He would win the Best Supporting Oscar in 1969’s They Shoot Horses…Don’t They? Young would also appear as the bored sadist in Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, where Young’s character took the name Fred C. Dobbs, in a joking reference to John Huston’s Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Gig Young was a great actor. His early roles showed that he had an effortless charm, a sort of everyday “suave guy next door”, if there even is such a thing. Young always played the other guy who graciously gave up the leading lady and seemed so damned affable doing it. Later, after he earned his well-deserved Oscar, his career turned towards darker, sinister roles. Young himself had a dim view of success, as he said in 1951: "So many people who have been nominated for an Oscar have had bad luck afterwards."

Young was married to Elizabeth Montgomery from 1956-63, a marriage that strained Elizabeth's relationship with her father, Robert Montgomery, who opposed the union. Young’s alcoholism continued to spiral out of control, and hastened the end of this already-abusive marriage. Young married five times and fathered a daughter in 1964, though he denied paternity until a five-year court case proved otherwise. Remember, no DNA testing then.

On October 19, 1978, Young shot and killed Kim Schmidt, his 31-year-old wife of three weeks. Young then turned the gun on himself. He was sixty four. In his will, he left his Oscar to his agent, but virtually nothing to his teenaged daughter.

What a jerk.

I’ve said before how I hate to discover that my favorite performers were miserable and Young is no exception. His performance in the Twilight Zone is one of my favorite TV roles ever and he brought such a tragic sadness to the Martin Sloan character. Young was an actor who got better as time went on, "getting gritty" with the changing times, reminding me all over again that stars of the 40s and 50s were merely projecting a convincing illusion which they no longer had to maintain with the death of the Hayes Office.

Sadly it would be Young's personal problems--not his self-fulfilling prophecy about Oscar nominees--that doomed him. His career was steady after his Oscar win, but it was Young’s drinking that did him in. He was fired from Blazing Saddles—he was to play The Waco Kid, later to become Gene Wilder’s role-- when he collapsed on set after an attack of the DTs (the story is here). Despite the horrors I’ve relayed here, I still choose to remember Gig Young as a quality character actor who only got better with age, though how he left this life is burned into my memory…how could it not be?

Watch Gig's performance in The Twilight Zone episode "Walking Distance" here.

A Broken Man: A dissipated Gig Young

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"You play yourself -- in deference to the character."

Ah, good ol' Jimmy Stewart. Always the one with the sage wisdom. Actually, Stewart cribbed that line from another acting titan, Laurence Olivier, he of the infamous line to "Method" actor Dustin Hoffman: "Dear boy, it's called acting."

"You play yourself--in deference to the character."

That line sums up my view on the kind of acting I love best. To me, acting isn't always about the becoming of the character, but rather the characteristics of the performer that are revealed in that performance. Make sense? I hope so. Let me know if it doesn't, as I try my best to avoid pretentious talk. What follows is most likely obvious to everyone else, but I feel the need to tell myself this.

Movie stars like Stewart, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, and Burt Lancaster all act brilliantly within the parameters of who they are. Now don't get me wrong, I treasure the work of Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and James Caan--always have; but I don't think they're any better or worse than their Golden Age predeccessors. James Stewart didn't need to gain sixty pounds or wear a digital "fat suit" to play Jefferson Smith, and John Wayne didn't have to hang around tormented war veterans to "get a handle" on Ethan Edwards, yet these performers managed to create two of the greatest characters in cinematic history. They tapped resources within themselves and the likes of Wayne and Stewart revealed more about the spectrum of their personalities--and without all of that Strasberg baggage. I love seeing the individual's personality come out in a performance, that's what makes a movie star an artist--their very individuality in a role. That's their personal charisma that comes out of the actor whether they want it to or not.

"I don't act; I react."--John Wayne

Atta boy, Duke. There's a lot more to Wayne's quote than his dismissing the criticism of his acting ability. I take that statement as being a personal one, as in how John Wayne himself would answer another actor's line. That's the acting within one's parameters that I've been going on about.

"Learn your lines and don't trip over the furniture."--Spencer Tracy

It's that simple. If you know what's being said, you'll know how to say it, and say it like it's supposed to be. Besides that, everyone watching a movie is a co-creator of the art, in that we all filter art through our own experiences and opinions, and that's what Golden Age giants like Grant, Wayne, and Stewart do, too.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Would Gary Cooper Be a Star Today?

This post began as a fun "what if?" concept but has become a rambling, barely coherent rant--make that "lament." I could go on all day about it, but I'll restrain myself here.

Something I've often thought about was whether the Golden Age stars who perhaps aren't as well known by today's average Joe or Jane could "cut it" in today's movie business. I'm sure it's just my wishful thinking and glorification of those stars and that era, but could someone like Gary Cooper be as big a star nowadays like he was in his heyday?

I have to wonder.

On the surface, it would seem that given Coop's looks, sex appeal, and nice guy reputation, he would be a darling at the box office. But would Cooper's subtle acting resonate with the moviegoer of 2009? He probably wouldn't be "emotional" enough, or "sensitive" enough, at least in the obvious, self-help, talk show-baring-of-the-soul sort of way that men engage in today. Actually, Cooper had all of those tender qualities, he just didn't wear them on his sleeve like a Clift or Dean. Maybe those 1950s actors really did change everything forever. Stoicism is kaput, but it's really subtelty and reading-between-the-lines acting that is forever gone. Grown ups can read between the lines, kids need everything spelled out for them.

In this age where movies look like video games, the 18-35 demographic is the portal to riches, and the overly-simplistic titling of any movie sequel in a film franchise (not counting James Bond) is simply titled with a number--not even a roman numeral anymore. Everything is so incredibly dumbed down today. There's a stigma against everything not fresh out of puberty. It's like the society is so afraid of being called "old", but it's more like they fear growing up. Black and white is anathema to today's audiences, even those in their fifties they who ironically grew up with the Pepsi slogan "For those who think young."

I used to hold out hope that there would be a reaction to the stultifying, vapid popular culture we have had over the past ten years: "Reality" shows, endless Law & Order and CSI spinoffs, the polarizing and sensationalized news programs airing 24/7 and that at least some quality might emerge. I realize that every decade has had its share of mindless entertainment and that only the good stuff is remembered, but I feel that we don't have that excuse anymore. The unprecedented access to anything that the internet can provide should've been, but hasn't led to any intellectual curiosity, or at least not enough to make a difference.

Oh. Gary Cooper. He'd be a rancher in Montana today, because he would be so unlike anyone working in films. He'd still be handsome, quiet, and forthright--just not in the movies.

Sorry, Coop: Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur wouldn't be employable in today's Hollywood. The fox they would just CGI...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mad Men Yourself

Are there any fans of AMC's Mad Men series? It takes place in Kennedy-era New York and it's about the trials and tribulations of the employees of Sterling Cooper, a Manhattan ad agency. Anyway, AMC's website has a fun game where you can cobble yourself together a la 1962 styles. Everytime I see this show, I want to shave, get a haircut, comb my hair, and watch a bunch of Rock Hudson and Doris Day comedies, which I'm really overdue in watching again. I'll admit I enjoy the witty and fluffy air that these films provide and how they glamourize New York during the last years of its Golden Age. The picture above is about as close to me as it can get, though I have a lot more gray hair. Mad Men's third season begins on August 16th. Special thanks to Chris over at Ultra Swank for the tip. Visit his blog, it's a gasser.

Me, About to be Crap-Canned, Camelot Style: Just me (left) and Don Draper, having a drink.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Poll Results: Carole Lombard

It’s Carole! In the 110 votes cast (a Hollywood Dreamland record), the majority of you voted Carole Lombard as the quintessential 1930s actress. The 1930s is hands down the best decade for women that there has ever been! So plentiful were the choices that I had to omit the likes of Irene Dunne and Claudette Colbert. But I doubt they were serious contenders. Here’s how the voting went:

Carole Lombard 29 (26%)
Bette Davis 18 (16%)
Jean Harlow 16 (14%)
Myrna Loy 14 (12%)
Ginger Rogers 14 (12%)
Katharine Hepburn 7 (6%)
Greta Garbo 6 (5%)
Joan Crawford 6 (5%)

I’m sure that there are many Carole Lombard fans out there, even if she did have a great
campaign manager…But I have no problem with her taking the crown in this poll, because after all, Carole’s career pretty much spanned the 1930s and she is probably associated with this decade more than any other actress. I think the voting tally accurately reflects the popularity as well as the memories of classic movie fans.

I think that Carole could do comedy *and* drama better than anyone, which isn’t to say the others couldn’t do both well, but Lombard was just perfect in both styles and had more opportunities to do them. I like how she can mix drama and comedy at once, as she does in that great scene of her break down in My Man Godfrey, with her sighing and mock hopelessness. I have a more opinionated view of Carole's abilities in an upcoming post, just bear with me while I write it!

Bette Davis almost never did comedy, though she was funny as hell. I think as long as Davis’ career was, that she really missed out by not doing more comedy roles, because she was that good.

Jean Harlow didn’t find her way until she started being funny, but her career and life was cut even shorter than Lombard’s. Had she not died in 1937, I truly believe that Jean Harlow would’ve emerged as the greatest star of her time.

Myrna Loy did much better than expected in this poll, but maybe she was just too buttoned-down to come out the winner here.

Ginger Rogers' being shackled to Fred Astaire probably hurt her chances, and while she wanted to do more dramatic roles (winning an Oscar for Kitty Foyle), I think she hurt her long-term career by running away from comedy and musicals, which turned out to be her strengths.

Katharine Hepburn. Where were the Kate fans again? They seem to be legion over at the IMDB boards, but were nowhere to be found here. My corner of the internet is entirely too tiny…

Greta Garbo. Maybe she’s under the radar outside of her small, dedicated following, but she was quite popular in the 1930s and a media figure despite her penchant for reclusiveness…

Joan Crawford is a polarizing figure due to her “Mommy Dearest” reputation. Boy, did Christina’s book deconstruct the Crawford legend or what? It couldn’t have been her fearsome eyebrows, as they wouldn’t take over her face until the 1940s. She still managed to get some votes towards the end, though. And yes, I do like her…

As for our champ, Miss Lombard, click the first picture in this post--to quote Ralphie's dad: it's indescribably beautiful!

Your Champeen, Ladies and Gentlemen...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nicole!

"I guess it was easier for her to change her name than for the whole family to change theirs!"

Happy 20th birthday to my favorite Classic Hollywood "Nerd", Nicole from...Classic Hollywood Nerd! She's young enough that she won't mind me spilling the beans on her new age, right? I hope you have a wonderful birthday today and that any night out goes better than Irene Dunne's in The Awful Truth. Have fun!

Friday, August 7, 2009

38 Questions

I found this fun questionnaire at Lolita’s Classics So, plagiarist that I am, I will also take this thing and see if I actually have any opinions.

1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.

The Killing (1956) Sterling Hayden and I are good friends, in an existential “What difference does it make?” way. Great caper film, this.

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.

Computer Generated Images. They make period pictures a lot easier to film, but they should help tell the story, not BE the story.

3) Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood) or Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman)?

I love Clint Eastwood, but I read once that he’s touchy about anyone taking from his mayonnaise stash on set, and seeing as the late, great Paul Newman probably made a pretty mean mayo, I’ll say Paul. Plus I had that haunting dream about him that nobody cared about. I’ll never open my heart to strangers again.

4) Best Film of 1949.

1949 was a pretty lousy year for films, and I was going to write a vitriolic post about that year’s Oscar winners. But since I try to keep things nice around here, I abstained. Film Noir had a pretty good year in ’49, so I’ll say White Heat, which is a great movie no matter what the year!

5) Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?

Jack Benny is an American comedy icon, and I love his shtick.

6) Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?

John Ford didn’t rely on shaky cam, and he filmed the Battle of Midway!!!

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?

The first foreign film I went and paid to see was Raise the Red Lantern (1992) Gong-Li…

8) Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) or Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre)?

Peter Lorre. Though I haven’t exhausted my reserve of faux-Asian detectives, so this may change.

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).

The Great Escape (1963) This film was every bit important to me during my childhood as anything Lucas or Spielberg put on screen in their prime. Steve McQueen on a motorcycle? I’ll have more of that!

10) Favorite animal movie star.

Asta the dog. He steals the show in The Awful Truth, doesn’t he? He always knew his motivation, too. Take that, Stanislawski and Strasberg!

11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.

Ben Affleck. This punk types the screenplay to Good Will Hunting and now we’re stuck with him? It was another blow when beloved heroes Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau handed Affleck a friggin’ Oscar for Best Screenplay. If you were in the room with me that evening, you saw me die a little.

12) Best Film of 1969.

The Wild Bunch. The manliest movie ever made. I once watched this at two in the morning while battling a fever. The opening scene of fire ants devouring a scorpion only added to my agitated state of mind. A brilliant movie, whether you’re feverish or not.

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). Didn’t like this one. On DVD? Casino Royale (2006). The third-best James Bond movie ever made.

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.

Altman is one of my least favorite directors, and I never understood his appeal. I don’t even have a first favorite!

15) What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?

[Place your blog here]

16) Who wins? Angela Mao or Meiko Kaji?

I’ll base this on looks, since I wouldn’t know them from a can of ravioli: Meiko Kaji. Now, watch me forge a lifelong obsession with her…

17) Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?

I got culture shock reading the question.

18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.

Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) Nick Charles in a great light-colored suit while on a merry-go-round while bratty kids taunt him. Yes, that would be the one.

19) Best use of high-definition video on the big screen to date.

1978: Seven-year-old me standing just to the left—no, no, a little bit this way-- of the TV screen so the family could get a clear signal from the rabbit ears during Candid Camera.

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.

Dances with Wolves. Never again would Native Americans be portayed as one-dimensional savages. Now, they’re three dimensional savages like the rest of humanity.

21) Best Film of 1979.

Alien (1979). Still frightening, still the best.

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.

The Human Comedy (1943). As sincere as it gets.

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).

See #21.

24) Second-favorite Francis Ford Coppola film.

Apocalypse Now (1979). For those of us of a certain age group, Apocalypse Now was a rite of passage and a movie we quoted like those Monty Python fanatics always seem to do with those films.

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985). Sure it began, but it also middled and ended with that one movie, too.

26) Favorite sequence from a Brian De Palma film.

I like Alfred Hitchcock too much to even answer this.

27) Favorite moment in three-strip Technicolor.

Dorothy opening the door from sepia Kansas to Technicolor Oz. Mind blowing, but we take it all for granted now, don’t we?

28) Favorite Alan Smithee film.

I’d have to come up with another alias for myself if I did choose one, so no go.

29) Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) or Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)?

Seeing as I’m the last Costner fan on Earth, even though I adore Matthau, so I’ll say Costner.

30) Best post-Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen film.

Alice (1990). Love the deco apartment, and the general atmosphere of this movie, even if they mention the term “Play Date”, which is what yuppies say when they get their non-genius children together to play. I’m sorry if anyone reading this is the spawn of yuppies. You have my sympathy.

31) Best Film of 1999.

The Sixth Sense. I fell for the entire thing hook, line, and sinker. Some genuinely eerie imagery, too. And the best performance by a child since that kid who played Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life cried when Mr. Gower slapped the crap out of him.

32) Favorite movie tag line.

“He’ll kill until he dies!” The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947). It’s not the tagline, but that line appears on the movie poster.

33) Favorite B-movie western.

Any one of those pre-fame, 1930s John Wayne Republic serials where he wears a really big hat and cute, perky 1930s chicks in full makeup coo around him.

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of his or her work.

Ian Fleming. Even when Bond movies are bad, they’re good.

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?

Susan Vance will destroy your current life and make you love her. Whatta gal!

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.

Bobby Short in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

37) Bruno (the character, if you haven’t seen the movie, or the film, if you have): subversive satire or purveyor of stereotyping?

I don’t see any ACLU lawsuits against the guy, so subversive satire.

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet.

I’ll stick to the (as of this writing) living: Roger Moore, James Caan, Martin Landau, Tom Baker, Leonard Nimoy

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jean Arthur on August 30th

August 30th can't come soon enough, as Turner Classic Movie's glorious Summer Under the Stars theme will be dedicated to lovely and screwy Jean Arthur. There'll be plenty of her movies that I haven't seen airing on that day, but the best of all is 1936's The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, a Thin Man-style mystery/comedy (co-starring William Powell) that leads my list of wanted films not on DVD. I haven't seen this in about two years, and look forward to adding it to my ongoing Husband and Wife Detectives series with a nauseatingly in-depth review. I know I'm excited...though I doubt I'll be moved enough to want to purchase a recording device to capture this glorious film for my compulsive viewing pleasure.

I apologize for not posting longer pieces lately. My father died on July 20 and I haven't been feeling up to anything, really. But I will bounce back and continue to (hopefully) keep your interest.